Artificial intelligence applications are increasingly a part of the library space: in chatbots, embedded in library systems, used for automated indexing and classification, and integral to robots.  The IT Section in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions is sponsoring the formation of a Special Interest Group in AI (AI SIG).

We are pleased to invite all IFLA colleagues and friends interested in Artificial Intelligence in the library field to join us on Dec. 6 at 4pm UTC (5pm CET, 11am EST) to join in a webinar and discussion on the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence Special Interest Group (AI SIG).

We will have presentations on AI in libraries followed by an open discussion.

The IFLA Professional Council meeting on November 3 has approved an exploratory meeting as the next step towards the establishment of AI SIG within IFLA.  The exploratory meeting on December 6 will:

  • give an overview of the current state of AI in libraries
  • discuss the goals and objectives (see below)
  • gather 25 signatories who intend to actively participate in the activities of the SIG for a petition to be submitted to the Professional Council
  • propose a satellite meeting and main session at IFLA WLIC 2022 in Dublin, Ireland.

If the SIG is approved we will also hold the first business meeting to nominate a Convenor and seek volunteers to serve in roles including Secretary and Communications Coordinator.

Meeting details

“New directions in AI: formation of an IFLA Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence”

Dec. 6 at 4pm UTC / 5pm CET / 11am EST)

Register for the Zoom meeting.

The introductions and presentations will begin at 4pm UTC / 5pm CET / 11am EST

Discussion and polling for signatories to support the formation of the AI SIG will begin at 5pm UTC / 6pm CET / 12pm EST

We hope you will join us to bring greater awareness and participation in AI in libraries and the IFLA community.

Goals and Objectives of the proposed IFLA AI SIG

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 personalised learning (behaviour models)
  • Smart support and mentoring
  • Augmented reality supported by AI
  • Automatic translation
  • Robotic applications
  • Advancing understanding of ethical practice in AI

Our objectives in formulating 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 organisation 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.
  2. Provide an international platform in IFLA to increase AI awareness, education, best practices, and literacy. Libraries will increasingly be engaged in organisation 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.

There is a need for an AI SIG to give more focus on this area from AI technologies and uses to the legal and ethical domains. The SIG will also complement the work done in the Big Data Special Interest Group. The formation of the AI SIG will help consolidate discussion around this dynamic area and facilitate alignment with the IFLA Statement on Libraries and AI as well as draw from the IFLA Statement on Text and Data Mining for knowledge discovery.

The AI SIG is likely to attract considerable cross-sectional support and will work with all professional and regional units in achieving its objectives. In the first two years, the AI SIG aims to:

  • Hold conference sessions, pre-conference satellite, workshops and/or webinars on relevant topics to keep abreast of AI developments and advances, and to engage and learn with the library community. The IT Section will be holding a webinar in 2021/2022 as a follow on from various activities in this area.
  • Follow up on the Recommendations of the IFLA Statement on Libraries and AI and identify priorities and actionable items within years one and two and beyond. Potential deliverables include:
    • A checklist of AI and algorithmic literacy skills and competencies
    • A position paper on Libraries and AI ethics
  • Gather best practices and global examples of excellence on implementation and ethical use of AI technologies in libraries to build up more examples listed in the IFLA Statement on Libraries and AI, Annex 3: Artificial Intelligence – Libraries at the Forefront.