Soo Young Rieh to Launch Institute on Artificial Intelligence for Library and Information Professionals

an illustration about the connection of human and ai in improving librarianship

Professor Soo Young Rieh, Associate Dean for Education at The University of Texas at Austin School of Information, is partnering with collaborators from two other universities to launch the IDEA (Innovation, Disruption, Enquiry, Access) Institute on Artificial intelligence (AI), a two-year project funded by a $208,142 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“Fellows who complete our intensive training program will become AI leaders in the library and information science field.”

“We aim to provide a continuing education program for library and information professionals who can lead the effort in planning, deploying, and implementing artificial intelligence in library settings,” Rieh said. “AI is one of the leading trends in the information field, but libraries have yet to implement AI technology in their work practices because they need AI experts in the library who can leverage the technology. Fellows who complete our intensive training program will become AI leaders in the library and information science field.”

The IDEA Institute on AI is a one-week interactive, evidence-based and applications-oriented professional development program for library and information professionals. The Institute will be held at the College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for the first year (2021) and at the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin in the second year (2022). A diverse cohort of twenty fellows will be recruited nationwide to attend the Institute, where they will develop conceptual and practical AI knowledge and skills in a collaborative learning environment. 

“AI technology presents a new opportunity to better serve communities in public, special, and academic libraries and other information environments,” said Rieh. “The Institute is a first step in helping current information professionals to build more advanced technical skills. Beyond the twenty fellows, we want to promote AI to more information professionals. AI technology can push the boundaries of what people traditionally perceive regarding the relevance of library and information environments in changing digital landscapes.”

The Institute project team is led by PI Dania Bilal from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Co-PIs Clara M. Chu from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the iSchool’s Rieh. Four experts in AI will serve in the dual roles of board members as well as Institute instructors: Catherine Nicole Coleman (Digital Research Architect at Stanford Libraries), Jason Griffey (Director of Strategic Initiatives for the National Information Standards Organization), Myung-Ja Han (Professor and Head of Acquisitions & Cataloging Services, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library), and Craig Boman (Software Engineer at Mile Two).

After the two-year project is completed, the Institute will live on through the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), of which of Rieh and Bilal have served as board members and Chu is president.  The American Library Association’s division “Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures” will support the Institute.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, IMLS grant number RE-246419-OLS-20. Read more at the Institute of Museum and Library Services website: https://imls.gov/grants/awarded/re-246419-ols-20