Thursday, June 10, 1999 Published at 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Robo-librarian books late returners
The automated system should keep more books on the shelves
Next time your library book runs overdue, watch out, robo-librarian could be on your trail.
The first message is a polite reminder, but if the book is not returned, a "more aggressive" message is despatched. It would be possible for the calls to be made at unsociable times.
Cheap and chatty
Ray Stark, of Talking Technologies, says the system is cheaper than posting letters and does not just chase late books, but can inform library users of reservations that have come in. It can also take messages from borrowers wanting to renew books.
Other uses envisaged for the robot telephonist are informing bank customers of overdrawn accounts, sending out local authority information such as forthcoming road works and possibly the automatic collection of poll information.
The LIS also featured a web-based program which helps bookworms find fiction to their taste.
"Forager" asks borrowers to describe the kind of book they want - frightening, optimistic, weird, sexy etc. - and then makes suggestions.
It has been developed by Applied Psychology Research and its multi-media specialist, John Turner said: "It allows people to choose up to 20 million different combinations of factors. Forager will then automatically suggest the books which most closely match their needs."