26 September 2023

Robot starts work at kids’ library

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An interactive robot developed to encourage young readers has started work at the State Library of NSW.

State Librarian, John Vallance said ‘Scout’ was a fun, interactive robot that used a conversational interface to help children discover books matched to their interests and general reading ability.

“Children are reading as much, if not more than ever,” Dr Vallance said.

“Scout will help them find new books to read,” he said.

“Young readers can chat with Scout about what books there are in our new Children’s Library”

Dr Vallance said Scout assessed a child’s interests and reading level before offering a recommendation of up to five books from the Children’s Library.

He said the robot was created by designer Meena Tharmarajah in collaboration with the State Library’s DX Lab.

“Scout is an experiment in understanding how children might find a book they will love to read,” Ms Tharmarajah said.

“Really the people best equipped to provide insight on what will really work for children are the children themselves,” she said.

“We’ve created a robot-like kiosk with a touchscreen and thermal printer.”

Ms Tharmarajah said young readers were prompted to answer a few simple questions mapped to the collection of over 2,000 books in the Children’s Library.

Scout is located on the ground floor of the State Library’s Macquarie Street building.

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