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Integrating AI Technology in School Librarian Preparation Program

by Gigi Mohamad

According to AASL, school librarians are instructional leaders, technology integrationists, Collaborators, and program administrators. Budget cuts in many school libraries deprived librarians of any personnel assistance and restricted them from extending their reach outside of their library spaces. With the advances in AI technology, the possibility of making up for the loss seems attainable. AI technology can be integrated into libraries services such as circulation and students’ inquiries regarding account management, hours, and policies.
Chatbots have many advantages, such as the ability the respond to any questions, regardless of the tone or language of the inquirer. They are efficient during high traffic and when there are repeated requests for the same information. Chatbots are an alternative for shy students or those with difficulties with written or oral communication.

The advantage of AI is that students are already familiar with the technology as it has been adapted in many commercial and government websites as well as at homes and smart devices.
AI has already been adopted in some libraries, and the technology does not require extensive knowledge of computer science. For example, Amazon, Google, and IBM provide free tools that allow users to create AI projects. Some examples of the adaptation of chatbots in libraries include the University of California Irvine Library chatbot and the University of Oklahoma Library Website Chatbot. These projects employ Conversational AI, a text and voice-enabled application that provides interactions similar to human conversations.

There is a need to extend the implementation of Conversational AI to school libraries. According to AASL, effective school library programs have certified school librarians who actively participate in their educational organizations’ instructional programs independently or collaboratively with other teachers. Unfortunately, many school librarians are limited in achieving these goals due to a lack of assistance in helping with students’ inquiries that do not require their expertise. AI technology has proven to help students, and early adaptations showed how students’ performance and engagement have increased because of adopting the technology.

As an educator of preservice school librarians, I see that incorporating AI education in the preparation program of school librarians will be not only helpful to them in their careers and benefit their educational organizations as well.

As technology integrationists and collaborators, school librarians can have a significant role in integrating AI technology in areas outside their programs. Collaborating with teachers of other disciplines, librarians can use their knowledge of AI to suggest solutions to student’s performance in all areas of the curriculum. My project is to learn and create a chatbot to share with my students and add a unit about it in my course to inspire preservice librarians to pursue the technology and integrate it into the workplace. I aim to become familiar with AI technology and incorporate it into the technology course I teach. My vision is to bridge the gap between information literacy and technology. Librarians need to understand new information technologies and the issues related to them, such as algorithmic bias, so they can integrate them ethically and educate their students about them.