Artificial intelligence skills and knowledge in libraries

Experiences and critical impressions from a learning circle




artificial intelligence in libraries, professional ethics, information literacy education, information literacy, Sweden


The rapid expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) poses challenges as well as opportunities for anyone or anything dealing with digital technologies, including libraries. Libraries and librarians have a twofold challenge in that they simultaneously must consider AI applications in library operations as well as AI skills and knowledge as part of the information literacy (IL) training they provide for their users, whether it be in IL programmes or informal learning contexts.

This study follows a learning circle in which 123 librarians in Sweden did a pre-existing online course about AI and met up at regular intervals to discuss its contents in a library perspective. The increased knowledge about AI and libraries and the confidence to pass on this knowledge to library users is measured through a self-efficacy test conducted on three separate occasions during the learning circle. The result from the test shows an increase in AI knowledge during the learning circle, although the small sample makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. A focus group from the learning circle was interviewed to get an in-depth understanding of librarians’ core topics of concern and excitement regarding AI and libraries. The results from the interview showed that there was a mainly positive view of AI in relation to making library collections more accessible and easier to manage, while there was more concern regarding AI’s impact on the media landscape and how this could impact library users. Introspectively, the focus group perceived challenges in including AI when teaching IL to users as well as in the lack of AI skills among colleagues that could make it difficult to apply or discuss AI in relation to the workplace and the library profession.

This paper presents a method of increasing AI knowledge among librarians and library staff. It highlights topics relevant for several library types when faced with the development and application of AI in libraries and in society that based on the results of the study are difficult to escape. The insights may prove useful when planning educational endeavours and when considering library development and strategy related to AI and their implications for libraries and library users.






Research articles (peer-reviewed articles)