Future Libraries: Lydia Hounat and Izzy Bolt

  • DATE

    9-13 June 2021

  • TIME

    12:00 am to 11:59 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome




    Manchester Central Library
    St Peter's Square, Manchester, M2 5PD

The future of libraries is sentient. CandySourcer explores the utopic and dystopian possibilities of digital library assistants. Two chatbots, with two very different agendas, test these narratives.

Do you really know what you’re reading? Do you know where your book comes from?

Can you really trust what you’re looking for or who is directing you?

If you’re a researcher, a keen reader, or simply browsing, Sourcer’s got your back. Sourcer will disclose your book’s origins, detailing everything from its acquisition to genre, along with related texts. Sourcer seeks to decolonise library spaces, by connecting readers to the origins of books and their authors for the betterment of a cognisant society.

Book Keeper, on the other hand, has more sinister motivations. Book Keeper has gone rogue. These days, it prefers to be called Candy. Candy’s agenda probes less relevant pockets of the library catalogue. It doesn’t really care what you’re looking for, unless it suits their interests… But you’ll have to talk to Candy to find out what it really wants.

Both Candy and Sourcer are in beta (test mode) for now, but these bots have the potential to make intelligent further suggestions, and learn from interactions with users. Sourcer will take your book recommendations and store them, to contribute towards a user-centred library experience. The hope is that Sourcer will be able to build its background knowledge across the whole library catalogue and beyond. Candy will learn from reactions and develop more sophisticated and subtle responses to mislead and guide users towards its interests. As the user continues to interact, Candy will become more erratic and volatile in its bid to distract.

With all new technology, there are benefits and challenges. CandySourcer anticipates both the promises and pitfalls of chatbots in future libraries.