Symposium on Robotics and AI in the Libraries in the Education Sector

The IFLA Information Technology (IT) Section is pleased to announce a new Symposium on Robotics and AI in the Libraries in the Education Sector. This follows a highly successful pre-conference on robotics with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions at the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau, Berlin, in August 2019. The department of Library Services of University of Pretoria, South Africa, in collaboration with IFLA IT section, is organising an International Symposium on Robotics and AI in Libraries, from 10-11 November 2021. The Symposium will be hosted by the University of Pretoria.

The rapid development in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, as well as the commercial availability of these products, is making inroads into the education sector, specifically in libraries. Beyond automated storage and retrieval systems, we now have autonomous shelf-reading robots, telepresence and humanoid robots, chatbots and voice activated systems. Robots and AI are becoming our co-workers. A number of higher education institutions around the world have deployed and implemented robotics and AI for internal operations as well as for public services. This combination of skilled human resources, robotics and AI technologies complement library services in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) era.

Robotics and AI have the following applications in Library settings:

  • Human-robot interaction, multiplicity.
  • Robotics-related software, AI, machine learning, etc.
  • Robots & AI for automation-like book transport and inventory duties (excluding automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS).
  • Robots and AI to assist teaching, learning and research.
  • Robots as eye-catchers and for fun (promotion).
  • Humanoid robots and AI for social interaction with clients and customers.
  • Humanoid robots for library services – instruction/teaching, library promotion, information and reference assistance, etc.
  • Autonomous delivery vehicles (ADVs) and other robots for library operations – book transport/delivery, inventory, shelf-reading, etc. (excluding ASRS).
  • Human-robot interaction design – speech and natural language processing (NLP), facial recognition, etc.
  • Cognitive automation – intelligent process automation using neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning.
  • Use and impact of AI – AI-based virtual assistants, conversational bots, voice assistants, etc.
  • Collaborative robots (cobots) and hybrid robotics/automation, e.g., telepresence robots.
  • Ethical and legal issues, algorithmic literacy, transparency, bias, oversight.
  • Social considerations, singularity/multiplicity, work-force issues.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Libraries.
  • MakerSpace.
  • Internet of Things and Libraries.
  • Smart Cities and Smart Libraries.
  • Blockchain Technologies in libraries.
  • Library Software, Automation and Open-Source Technologies.

The Symposium will include:

  • Presentations from experts in the field.
  • Panel and round table discussion.

The programme is now available: UP_Library Services_Robotics Symposium_Programme_V5.

To participate as an Attendee, Presenter, Sponsor please  CLICK HERE to sign up.

Important dates:

  • Registrations opens – 16 August 2021
  • Registration closes – 09 November 2021

For further information, please contact

Conference administrator : Una Mgwenya at

Local Committee Chair : Lazarus Matizirofa at