Demo of an Ask Yale ChatBot

The Library IT Summer Interns,  Annissa Carter, Bryana Kilpatrick, and Jhoselyn Jara, created a Library Help Desk ChatBot demo. Adding a ChatBot to the Yale University Library would allow students to have  24/7 access to answers to questions they may have when the library is closed and no staff is available to help. The Interns took two of the most popular Ask Yale Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and added two additional questions they felt would be something a new student would need to know.

The questions they used in the ChatBot demo were:

  • I just graduated do I still have access to the library?
  • How can I reserve a locker in Bass Library?
  • What time does the library close/open?
  • What is the Yale Library website?

A ChatBot is a computer program designed to simulate a text-based conversation and have become increasingly popular in providing customer service over the internet or smart phones. Using the software platform provided by PlayBot, a company specializing in the creation and distribution of chatbots, it took the Interns three weeks to complete the Library Help Desk ChatBot demo.

Out of the box, a ChatBot is very limited in its responses, the person scripting the Bot needs to anticipate the different words the user may type in to ask questions. Those language nuances need to be taken into account for the user to receive an accurate response. In the example of the Library Help Desk Chatbot, Bryanna Kilpatrick, used scripting to determine the different forms of a greeting. She scripted the various forms of “hello” including “hey” and “hi” as possible options. Programming is essential, the ChatBot is only as responsive as the scripting is planned for, if you type outside of the prescribed phrases the ChatBot doesn’t know what you mean.

Example of ChatBot coding in AIML

The ChatBot tool uses AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) which is an XML-compliant Lagrangian (Extensible Markup Language). XML is a markup language much like HTML that is designed to store and transport in a self-descriptive manner so it is human readable as well as machine readable. The demo was very successful and there may be a ChatBot coming to Ask Yale some time in the not so distant future.

Library IT Welcomes Summer Interns

Building on last year’s success, LIT has joined forces with New Haven Promise again and accepted 3 new summer interns.  We are excited to welcome Annissa Carter, Bryana Kilpatrick, and Jhoselyn Jara. All three students are New Haven natives and upperclassmen studying at area colleges.
Annissa and Bryana both attend the University of Connecticut. Annissa is going into her Senior year and is majoring in Human Development and Family Studies.  She plans to practice Social Work after graduation, she intends to put her education and passion towards social change. She also happens to be related to one of LIT’s recent hires, Keith Boyd-Carter, who was recently hired as a Systems Programmer.  They found out they were both working in the same department getting onto the elevator. Bryana is a Junior currently majoring in Electrical Engineering and Physics. She hopes to further her studies after graduation and go on to earn her Masters degree.  Our third intern,  Jhoselyn Jara, is a Junior studying at Central Connecticut State University. Jhoselyn  is majoring in Psychology currently and was planning to go into Occupational Therapy, although after taking an Abnormal Psychology class this past semester she is reconsidering pursuing Clinical Psychology.
All three of our summer interns are New Haven Promise Scholars. New Haven Promise is a scholarship program that awards scholarships to New Haven residents who attend New Haven Public Schools or an approved charter school. In order to be considered for the New Haven Promise program, students must demonstrate a positive attitude, maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher at graduation, and have completed 40 hours of community service over four years of high school. While pursuing their degrees New Haven Scholars receive continued support with job fairs and assistance in job placement. The opportunity for Scholars to build  real-world experience by finding practical summer internships in invaluable. This is Annissa’s second summer internship at Yale, she previously worked at Yale Art Gallery.
New Haven Promise has been a successful partner with LIT and we are fortunate to have the additions to our team and look forward to a productive summer! 

Library IT cross-training Internship comes to a close

Jason Eiseman, Head of Technology at the Lillian Goldman Law Library, recently completed a cross-training Internship with Library IT.

The two-part focus of the internship was to learn more about the Quicksearch project, and more about how Library IT does its work in general.

The cross-training experience was a great success. 

Jason worked on making a number of links in Quicksearch open in new windows, updated a MARC analysis spreadsheet and improved MARC tag mapping in Quicksearch, and assisted in checking and enhancing some of the Quicksearch documentation.  Most importantly, he  developed a new Rails app that improved the connection between Quicksearch and the law library’s MORRIS catalog.

If you would like more information, Jason will be doing a presentation on his internship at the Tech Talk on August 17th.

It was a pleasure for all of us to work with Jason, and we look forward to collaborating with him in the future!