Intelligent agents – software components designed to perform complex tasks for the user (with or without the presence of the user) – are used in a variety of settings, from instant messaging and web auctions, to ATM network management and air traffic control systems. The technology also has applicability within libraries, adding a level of user‐oriented control and flexibility to activities such as digital collection management and virtual reference. The use of intelligent agents to assist users with their searches has perhaps the greatest potential. The purpose of this article is to provide background information on the use of agent technology in information settings, and review three library‐based projects that utilize agent technology in a practical way.
A comprehensive literature review combined with brief case studies of practical applications of agent technology in three modern library settings. A conceptual model of a virtual, agent‐based personalized library is also presented.
Librarians and others in the information profession recognize the potential of agent technology within the library setting. The paper presents a number of practical scenarios for using agents, from supporting digital libraries and teaching information literacy to virtual reference.
There are numerous implications for current and future use of agent technology in libraries, including how to engage IT staff in the development process, how to educate users about the benefits of the technology, and how to make sure library professionals have the skill set to allow them to participate in the conceptualization, design and implementation of agents.
There is a wealth of professional literature on agent technology and its uses, mostly from a computing or engineering perspective. This paper has value in that it presents the concept from a library perspective, and includes references to relevant library literature and projects.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited