Virtual tools for library
Many libraries do not satisfy the need for quick and easy access to an
increasingly diverse spread of educational topics. Project VERITY is exploring virtual
library services that are creative, stimulating and enlightening. The work is aimed at the
13-19 age group. A prototype tool called Virtual Librarian replicates in a virtual
computer environment the help, expertise and knowledge of the professional librarian.
Additionally, the system provides an easily maintainable service and assistance to
teaching and information professionals.
Virtual Librarian uses World Wide Web technologies and an interactive interview process
to direct users to the information they require. It also incorporates Eurovoc and other
thesauri to closely match natural language queries to database entries. A learning
dialogue explains the information seeking process. Joint development of the core system
will result in demonstrators in different countries with a common base and local
variations, according to the needs of language, subject, target group and so on.
The interactive data searching capabilities are demonstrated on the VERITY stand. This
illustrates how those seeking information can take advantage of professional skills,
without being tied to location and opening hours. The system could potentially be
exploited and integrated by enquiry services outside the library community.