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RELEASE: Public Libraries Set the Stage for Integration of Artificial Intelligence in their Services and Resources

New report from Urban Libraries Council examines how public libraries can lead the responsible use of AI.

Washington, DC — Today, the Urban Libraries Council, an innovation and impact tank of North America’s leading public library systems, issued a new leadership brief that outlines five ways libraries can integrate cutting-edge artificial intelligence in their work. Being on the front line of new technology is a common position for libraries, and the rapid growth of generative AI technologies like ChatGPT in the past year has made this an urgent topic for library leaders.

“As generative AI tools become more accessible, effective and less expensive, there are new opportunities for libraries to lead,” said ULC President and CEO Brooks Rainwater. “While there are persistent concerns that must be addressed on AI being used for misinformation, the opportunities in front of us are manifold. This includes responsible applications that improve efficiency, speed up communication and serve as a useful tool for showcasing and validating library services and resources.”

The ULC report looks at how libraries can prepare for a swift integration of AI across library services, resources and operations. The report also includes insights from library leaders in Boston, Multnomah County (OR), New York City, Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Jose.

ULC Recommendations on How to Integrate Generative AI at Public Libraries

  1. Move from informing to practicalizing such as leveraging AI tools for performance improvements at branches and in program design.
  2. Leverage prompt engineering skills of library professionals who are already trained to find bodies of information using keywords or phrases.
  3. Advance information literacy of staff and patrons through hands-on use of AI, such as workshops where participants learn how to generate short stories and poetry with AI.
  4. Create an AI-focused digital inclusion network to ensure equitable access to the economic benefits of new AI powered technologies.
  5. Advocate for the responsible use of AI to ensure these advancements benefit the community at large, and that foundational standards of education, innovation and access to information are preserved.

Read the full leadership brief, Explorations of Generative AI for Library Systems, on the ULC website.

The Urban Libraries Council is an innovation and impact tank of North America’s leading public library systems. ULC drives cutting-edge research and strategic partnerships to elevate the power of libraries as essential, transformative institutions. More than 170 urban member libraries in the U.S. and Canada rely on ULC to identify significant challenges facing today’s communities and provide new tools and techniques to help libraries achieve stronger outcomes in education, digital equity, workforce and economic development, and race and social equity. Learn more at