Making Artificial Intelligence Approachable
Frisco Public Library, Texas
Just when artificial intelligence looked like it was far beyond the reach of most learners, the Frisco Public Library leveraged computing tools to bring AI home. We combined an at-home experiential learning kit with classroom instruction to provide access to powerful resources. We are building digital inclusion that is sustainable and fun.
According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, AI specialists will be one of the top 10 emerging roles in the jobs landscape. Public Libraries can be innovation generators by providing pathways to understanding this new job skill for younger learners and for those in the existing workforce to “upskill” their talents to remain successful in these new economies. The challenge, then, was to determine how to bring the library into this new area of expertise, when budgets are tight and space and talent are constrained.
Key elements include AI Maker Kits, classes and community engagement. We circulate this emerging technology in 21 Maker Kit boxes; they are foam lined, waterproof and durable. We took an existing product from Google, the AIY Voice Kit, and modified its casing with our 3-D printers. Then, we developed a class curriculum to make this form of AI accessible to the community. The Smart Speakers use Python coding as a skeleton key to access Google’s AIY resources. We use the AI Maker Kits at outreach events to highlight cutting-edge services.
These AI education efforts have led the conversation in the community about our library’s role as a tech navigator and leader. As a result, kits have enlivened our social channels with posts garnering over 4,000 views over the past seven months (since the introduction of the AI kits). This activated our guests to circulate the AI kits more than 120 times and has driven the AI class attendance average to 16 participants per session. We are empowering new AI learners for the future with this powerful approach.