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Australian first: chat-bot that gets kids reading

Scout the chat-bot

Scout the chat-bot

Australia’s first chat-bot designed to get kids reading has just been launched at the Library!

Scout is a fun, interactive robot that uses a conversational interface which helps children quickly discover books matched to their interests and general reading ability.

“Children are reading as much, if not more than ever. Scout will help them find new books to read,” says State Librarian John Vallance.

Scout, created by award-winning experience designer Meena Tharmarajah in collaboration with the State Library’s DX Lab, assesses a child’s interests and reading level before dispensing a list of up to five books they will enjoy reading in The Children’s Library.

Meena is the creative force behind the ABC Play School iPad Apps (The Art Maker and Play Time) and spent a few months working on chat-bot concept at the Library as a DX Lab Digital drop-in. She believes “all digital experiences should be both useful and enjoyable.”

“We’ve created a robot-like kiosk with a touchscreen and thermal printer. Young readers are prompted to answer a few simple questions mapped to the collection of 2,000+ books in The Children’s Library (from picture books to YA titles). They then receive a printed list of books they liked.”

Meena says Scout is a great tool for librarians and could inform how a collection might be organised, but also the type of books that could be added to a collection.

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

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