Infotabby - The Cybrarian’s and Librarian’s Assistant

The Gist

Reference Librarians and Cybrarians continually process inquiries. Some are easily answered while others require more research. Infotabby is an intelligent chat bot, fully capable of providing answers and high-quality customer support for the easy inquiries, while passing off the harder ones to its supervisor. In short, Infotabby is an assistant, working under the direction and guidance of a Librarian or Cybrarian.

Infotabby is easily trainable, and rapidly learns new answers to new questions. As your representative, Infotabby tirelessly works (24 hours a day) to politely answer questions. Infotabby keeps track of what kinds of questions are posed and how well they were answered. Infotabby seamlessly connects with existing library databases so that your existing information can be easily reused.

Infotabby is based on open source knowledge (content). You may freely reuse and customize this content.

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A small number of projects have successfully deployed chat bots at Libraries. One of the most successful of these projects was developed by David Newyear at Mentor Public Library and Michele McNeal at Akron-Summit County Public Library in Ohio [1]. David Newyear created and deployed “Emma” the award winning ([2],[#]_, [3]) Virtual Reference (Librarian). David Newyear gave an excellent presentation about Emma, The Cat Who Sat Down at the Reference Desk, at the Chatbots 3.1 conference held in April 2011 in Philadelphia. You can view the two part video of the talk [4], [5] or the slides [6].

Mentor Public Library and David Newyear chose to release Emma to the open source community. More recently, David Newyear released into open source Infotabby - an improved version of Emma that may be customized for your own library. It has extensive knowledge specific to public libraries. Other libraries may freely obtain and modify Infotabby knowledge and publish their own “Infotabby” variants under another name.

Pandorabots services for custom Infotabby creation help you successfully teach your chat bot your library’s unique characteristics with goal of satisfying inquiries from prospective patrons. Using our standards-based content coupled with our in-house content creation tools, we learn about your library’s issues and requirements to ensure that the right solution is delivered according to a defined schedule and budget. We provide:

  • In-depth library needs analysis
  • Building an appropriate ‘look and feel’ helping to define your library
  • Proof-of-concept prototype deployments
  • Temporary project staff augmentation

How Chat Bots Can Help

Today, with the emergence of new digital formats and platforms, the distinctions between personal assistance and computer-based assistance have blurred. With Pandorabots technology, it is now possible to combine transactional and informational objectives (i.e. with live human assistance close by) with service assistance 7 days a week 24 hours per day. Our technology permits measurable results of actual questions appropriately answered. Pandorabots Services and Products assist libraries seeking to offer increased patron options through the use of reference librarian assistants while helping to create truly interactive and positive experiences with patrons. Moreover, our products are truly multilingual - capable of interacting with consumers in the language of their choice. Libraries can target specific patrons and easily measure the effectiveness of the reference librarian assistants.

Cross-platform (digital formats) coupled with industry-wide standards for measuring and deploying chat bots are an essential part of Pandorabots long term vision. We adhere to open standards when possible, and otherwise work to help form new standards where none currently exist. Our long-term vision includes forth-coming products that deploy interactive, measurable messages into mobile platforms, micro-blogging platforms, Instant Messaging platforms, internet, branded entertainment and custom solutions, and we believe these channels will replace traditional forms of advertising.

Our cross-platform standards-based solutions give your organization a competitive edge whenever there’s a decision to be made. They help cut costs and save time so that you can get the most out of your valuable resources. Find out how Pandorabots Services can help you.

Partner Solutions

Pandorabots specializes in content creation (chat bot knowledge), knowledge management, hosting, statistics and ongoing evolution of (maintenance) of content. Our Business Partners offer avatar development, custom voice streams, and other services that enhance the appeal of your Infotabby chat bot. Pandorabots` Business Partners combine their expertise with our content creation technology to help customers create a competitive edge, accelerate project implementation time, and improve return on investment. They are highly skilled and have made an investment in the business so they can meet your requirements.


Pandorabots products and related services (knowledge management, hosting, statistics, and content evolution) help you maximize the return on your existing investments. Interactive capabilities can easily be added to existing reference materials. Throughout the life cycle of your pandorabot development, our experts guide, mentor and support your efforts. We help you meet your requirements so that you can achieve maximum value on your investment. Whether you are deploying your first pandorabot application, running a collection of pandorabots in a large system in production or simply engaged in early research our service offerings can:

  • Deliver specific solutions that address your changing needs
  • Help ensure that your system performs optimally
  • Assist you with future expansion and enhancement of your pandorabot deployments

Hosting Options

There are a variety of hosting options available for Infotabby. Options include using the free Pandorabots community server, host it yourself, or host it in the Cloud (typically Amazon’s cloud services are used).

Using Infotabby to Author Your Librarian Assistant

Previously a big hurdle to wide-spread adoption of chat bot technology has been the time to author a believable and useful chat bot. Starting with David Newyear’s “Infotabby” project solves this problem. All that remains are customizations for your particular needs. In essence, we help you create and add these customizations. We teach you how to become independent and self sufficient in your on-going maintenance of your chat bot knowledge. Library patrons interacting with the result experience robust useful conversations and positive feelings.

How long someone willingly engages with your pandorabot in some sense determines its quality. Creating a robust - meaning able to answer a variety of questions - and useful pandorabot that leaves a positive impression are what we are after. Crafting library specific informational and welcoming messages are the essential function of people responsible for maintaining the chat bot knowledge. And the impression your authored pandorabot induces within patrons depends heavily on accuracy of the knowledge you build.

On Going Maintenance

Website pages change, chat bot answers change, and today’s best answer tends to evolve over time, if only to enhance its affect. We train your staff to examine conversation logs, and use the continual stream of queries to adapt the responses to ensure positive impressions.

Premium Support

Pandorabots premium support for Infotabby offers expert, comprehensive, proactive, and personalized software support and assistance to help improve the usefulness and reliability of your assistant. Premium support services complement your software maintenance contract with added levels of support often necessary for organizations with complex needs. Pandorabots Premium Services can include:

  • Premium Support Manager
  • Premium Support Analyst
  • Operations support
  • Developer support
  • Applications support
  • On-site emergency support

How Much Does It Cost?

Contact for more information. Or call 415 343 5894 during the hours of 8am-5pm PST.

More about Pandorabots

Pandorabots was recently founded by people with strong technology and business backgrounds who recognized the potential for developing chat bots (pandorabots) to create lasting positive impressions in the minds of consumers. We are a small growing company with a very strong technology portfolio. With more than 1 billion interactions, our public consumer-oriented (and open-source standards-based) chat bot site ( dwarfs all other competitors sites combined. While our current products retain our technical focus, our future plans include substantial investments aimed at enhancing our informational offerings. Pandorabots seeks business partners with complementary skill sets coupled with a compatible vision for the future.

So What Are The Next Steps?

We have written a series of documents taking you through the basic steps of acquiring, modifying and contributing back to the Infotabby project.

  1. An Overview of Pandorabot Projects on Google Code.
  2. How to create your own Library Chatbot.
  3. Creating an AIML Repository using Mercurial.
  4. Cloning the repository.
  5. (Advanced) Creating and hosting your own project on Google Code.


Pandorabots, in conjunction with David Newyear offer classes covering all aspects of augmenting Infotabby knowledge and deploying Infotabby.

  1. The beginner’s class

    What is covered.

    1. Getting Infotabby
    2. Modifying Infotabby
    3. Getting an avatar
    4. Logging on to the community server
    5. How a Reference Librarian supervises Infotabby
    6. Deploying Infotabby
  2. The advanced class

    What is covered

    1. Contributing to the Infotabby Project
    2. Advanced editing of Infotabby Knowledge
    3. Accessing external information resources with Infotabby
  3. Consulting Services

  4. Deployment Options

References and Article Links

References and Footnotes

[1]For more details please see: Using Artificial Intelligence to Enhance Information Services - VIRTUAL REFERENCE IN OHIO
[2]David Newyear wins an award for his catbot program
[3]American Library Association: David Newyear wins an award for his catbot program
[4]Catbot Makes Purr-fect Impression at Mentor Public Library
[5]The Cat Who Sat Down at the Reference Desk (video) - David Newyear (part 1 of 2)
[6]The Cat Who Sat Down at the Reference Desk (video) - David Newyear (part 2 of 2)
[7]The Cat Who Sat Down at the Reference Desk (pdf) - David Newyear

© Copyright Pandorabots Incorporated 2011

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