Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a fast-growing area globally and it is important if not critical for libraries to be engaged in greater understanding of its impact on the profession as well as library operations and services. IFLA provides the global professional network and platform for greater awareness and actions. The IFLA Statement on Libraries and AI issued in 2020 outlined key considerations and recommendations for the use of AI technologies in the library sector.

The establishment of the AI SIG supports and works towards implementing the recommendations as well as adding value and impact to that Statement on Libraries and AI. It will help consolidate discussions at IFLA around this dynamic area and facilitate alignment with that Statement. There continues to be many advances in the area and is an increasingly active topic in IFLA. As witnessed in WLIC 2021, there were sessions and discussions on AI and citizen science for improving health outcomes to building equity in an algorithmic society.

There are many roles that libraries can play in a society with growing AI integration, including:

  • Content creation, classification, and search and discovery
  • Decision-making analytics (materials budgets, purchasing, better allocation of resources)
  • Learning assistance and personalized learning (behavior models)
  • Smart support and mentoring
  • Augmented reality supported by AI
  • Automatic translation
  • Robotic applications
  • Advancing understanding of ethical practice in AI

Some main objectives of the SIG are:

  1. Provide a focal point for developing ideas in line with the recommendations in the IFLA Statement on Libraries and AI. The SIG will help address the key areas of innovation and concern for libraries including learning more about the artificial forms of knowledge generation in society over and above the traditional research and publication processes, and the associated new forms of knowledge organization and representation those will demand from libraries. The SIG will also explore the risks and opportunities of AI through the lens of traditional professional and ethical practices of library and archival professionals.
  1. Provide an international platform in IFLA to increase AI awareness, education, best practices, and literacy. Libraries will increasingly be engaged in organization and client understanding of the role of AI in society and the use of AI in libraries. It is important to learn how AI can supplement libraries’ existing knowledge databases and information systems in a responsible manner as well as to investigate how libraries can be important data providers for AI applications and services.

The AI SIG will address the need for more focus on legal and ethical aspects of AI technologies. The SIG will also complement the work done in the Big Data Special Interest Group.

This unit is sponsored by the Information Technology Section.

This unit is part of the Professional Division B.