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The Future of Libraries: AI and Machine Learning

By Hannah Herrlich, Emerging Technologies Librarian

AI has a significant impact on university libraries, revolutionizing the way they operate and transforming the services they offer. Here are some key ways in which AI is impacting university libraries:

  1. Improved Information Retrieval: AI-powered algorithms enhance the efficiency and accuracy of information retrieval. By analyzing vast amounts of data and user behavior, AI systems can generate more relevant search results, helping students and researchers find the resources they need quickly and efficiently. This saves valuable time and improves the overall user experience.
  2. Personalized Recommendations: AI algorithms can analyze user preferences, browsing history, and academic interests to provide personalized recommendations for books, articles, and research papers. This personalized approach enables students and researchers to discover new resources and explore topics they may not have considered otherwise, promoting a culture of continuous learning and intellectual growth.
  3. Intelligent Resource Management: AI technologies, such as natural language processing and machine vision, enable libraries to automate cataloging processes, digitize materials, and organize information effectively. This streamlines administrative tasks and improves accessibility to resources, making them available to a wider audience. AI can also help in optimizing collection development by analyzing usage patterns and predicting future demand for specific resources.
  4. Virtual Assistants and Chatbots: AI-powered virtual assistants and chatbots provide instant support to library users. They can answer frequently asked questions, assist with research queries, and guide users through library services and resources. These virtual assistants offer round-the-clock support, improving the overall user experience and ensuring that students and researchers receive prompt assistance.
  5. Data Analytics for Decision-Making: AI enables libraries to harness the power of data analytics for better decision-making. By analyzing usage patterns, AI algorithms can provide insights into resource utilization, enabling libraries to optimize their collections, allocate budgets more effectively, and tailor their services to meet the needs of their users.
  6. Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: AI facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing among library users. For example, AI-powered platforms can connect users with similar research interests, facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations and fostering a sense of community within the academic environment.

Overall, AI is transforming university libraries by improving information retrieval, providing personalized recommendations, optimizing resource management, enhancing the user experience, enabling data-driven decision-making, and fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. These advancements ensure that libraries continue to play a vital role in supporting academic research, teaching, and learning in the digital age.

If you were to think that all of the above sounds as if it has been written by the text-generating AI software, ChatGPT, you would be correct. The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our daily lives may seem overwhelming and somewhat ominous, but don’t panic, villainous robot overlords remain within the realm of science fiction. On the contrary, when used responsibly and appropriately, AI technologies have the potential to be used as incredibly powerful tools within the scope of education and research. However, there is a fundamental feature absent from the design of AI technology- The human touch. Though these systems are designed to act human, they are not, and humans remain in control of these technologies. As you can see from the first part of this blog post, ChatGPT was helpful in outlining the impact that AI has on university libraries, but there was no voice or shred of human expression. For now, AI is here to stay and as a result, it is something that we, as librarians, researchers, and humans must learn to work with and not against in order to build a future inclusive of information technologies that strive for a more sustainable world. (Plus, the robots don’t like it when you try to fight them… KIDDING.)

If you are a faculty or staff interested in learning more about this subject. then consider attending Faculty Technology Day 2023: AI and the Future of Education, tomorrow. The day will be filled with fascinating workshops, stimulating conversations, and an exciting keynote address about the future of teaching, technology, and research. Of course, you won’t want to miss the breakout session led by some of our very own Fordham librarians, How Can I Get the Robot to Do My Research? Read more about the presentation description below and we hope to see you there!

How Can I Get the Robot to Do My Research?

Presented by Nick Alongi, MLIS, MS (Head of Access, Information & Collection Services, and Operations); Hannah Herrlich (Emerging Technologies Librarian); John D’Angelo (Head of Circulation Librarian); Gabriella DiMeglio (Archives/Special Collections Librarian)

Presentation Description: With ChatGPT seemingly breaking the Internet overnight and creating widespread panic across academia, Fordham University’s librarians have a simple message: Keep calm, we’ve got this covered. Libraries have long embraced artificial intelligence (AI) and new technologies as tools to supplement–not supplant–the services we provide the academic community, and AI, ChatGPT and other technological advances are no different. Join the Fordham University Libraries team as we explore the current and potential uses of AI in the academic library sphere; dispel myths around the extinction of human librarians; advocate for AI literacy (including the ability to make informed decisions about using AI technologies); and demonstrate how these new technologies can support your research experience.

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