“Book Bans to AI: Changing the Narrative in Libraries” Keynote. Library Journal 2023 Directors Summit. Houston, Texas.
Abstract: While librarians should never surrender the fight for intellectual freedom, there is utility in changing the narrative of the conversation. Rather than fighting a charged reactionary “battle” against censorship, we should use local narratives that emphasize the professionalism of librarians and the larger societal benefits of public libraries. AI and workforce development provides one such opportunity.
I was quoted several times in a good piece on academic libraries and AI
“This does change things, but in a very good way,” said R. David Lankes, the Virginia and Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship at the University of Texas at Austin. “Librarians, every decade or so, are getting good at dealing with an existential crisis of ‘Do we need librarians?’ But with this one they’ve been very open to embrace, discuss and analyze this.”
These days if I’m asked to give a guest lecture, keynote, or just a talk it is either about book bans or AI. Increasingly I see the intersection. I have a feeling this will be an area of continued investigation, so I’ve created a new category for my stuff. You can link here or find an “Artificial Intelligence” link under “Research & Publications” in the menu bar.
“LibrarianAI: Facilitation at the core of librarians role in AI.” Panel presentation at XX International Conference on University Libraries. Mexico CIty, Mexico
Abstract: To talk about what competencies librarians need in a world of ubiquitous AI has to start with rethinking the role of a librarian to begin with. Librarians should not compete with AI to be the objective answer machine, but instead be active facilitators of knowledge and fight for their communities.
This post was done in about 10 minutes…so consider it a conversation starter that needs input.
I had a very interesting conversation talking about project ideas for AI and academic libraries. It quickly focused on AskA Librarian services and good ‘ol digital reference/virtual reference. Imagine, the conversation went, we could take a person’s question and run it through chatGPT and then prompt librarians to work with the person with the AI prompt.
I jumped back about 30 years to discussions of “sandwich interfaces” that would search against a database of previous questions and answers. Then we could look for different types of questions asked, and which would work better with AI. Could we remake QuestionPoint (now LibAnswers https://springshare.com/libanswers/ ) in a librarians driven augmented intelligence function. One that could drive collection development and interface design? Take the virtual reference work o Conway and Radford and join it with Soo Young Rieh’s work in learning and search interfaces!
Join us for a workshop where we’ll be delving into the crucial topic of AI literacy. Together, we’ll be designing an educational program for high school students to help them learn about the future of AI and its impact on their lives and careers. Topics include algorithmic bias, generative AI, disinformation, and self-driving cars. School librarians attending the TLA 2023 Conference are invited to join us for an exciting and enriching experience!
This workshop is funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for our project, “Training Future Faculty in Library, AI, and Data Driven Education and Research (LADDER).” The goal of this project is to prepare future LIS faculty who have hybrid expertise in leveraging libraries and AI and data science to benefit libraries. LADDER Fellows conduct collaborative research with school, academic, and public librarians as well as the principal investigators, Soo Young Rieh, Ken Fleischmann, and David Lankes.
“Next Steps in School Libraries or From Holy Crap to Hold My Beer.” Libraries.Today National Forum.
Abstract: School Librarians have faced major disruption before. PCs, the Internet, etc.. They have faced these changes through a cycle of reactions from fear, to categorization, to adopting, and finally adaptation. This presentation looks at this cycle and two big present day disruption: generative AI, and material challenges.
Great news! I am part of a team headed by Dr. Soo Young Rieh and including Dr. Ken Fleischmann that just got funded by IMLS. The main goal of the project is to create future iSchool faculty highly skilled in data science and AI with a strong connection to the library field.
One of the complaints I often here from librarians and library science students is that technically-oriented faculty don’t understand or have experience in librarianship. In this project, rather than “skilling up” library-oriented doc students, we’ll be “contexting-up” data folks with the context, values, and core strengths of librarianship. This is actually how I became attracted to libraries in my doctoral work.
The grant is also a response to the concerns of library directors that faculty and students don’t get first hand learning in libraries.
Nine iSchool doctoral students will be selected as LADDER Fellows over three years and will be funded by the IMLS. Each year, the three PIs and three doctoral students will collaborate with librarians, rotating across three library contexts: Austin Public Library, Navarro High School Library, and UT libraries. Another aspect of this grant is that LADDER Fellows will be asked to form a doctoral committee like other doctoral students will do. What’s unique here is that each committee member takes a specific mentoring role: a research mentor, a professional engagement mentor, and a teaching mentor. The collaborative mentoring is designed to provide a triangulated educational experience for doctoral students so they will grow to be strong researchers and capable educators who understand the importance of applying their knowledge to authentic library contexts.