November 24, 2020

Urban Libraries Council Launches Initiative to Empower Public Libraries For the “Equitable and Inclusive” Use of Artificial Intelligence

From ULC:

2019-01-17_08-14-43The Urban Libraries Council has launched a new initiative to empower North American public libraries to stand at the forefront of the movement for an equitable and inclusive future for the storage, privacy and application of data as AI technology becomes more ubiquitous. This initiative began with a working group meeting held January 9-10 that convened library leaders from across the U.S. and Canada to discuss opportunities for libraries to collaborate in order to get ahead of the potential risks presented by AI and to maximize the technology’s potential for public good.

The working group session included top-level leaders from:

  • Anythink Libraries (Colo.)
  • Baltimore County Public Library (Md.)
  • Boston Public Library (Mass.)
  • Broward County Libraries (Fla.)
  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Pa.)
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (N.C.)
  • Chicago Public Library (Ill.)
  • DC Public Library (D.C.)
  • King County Library System (Wash.)
  • Los Angeles Public Library (Calif.)
  • Milwaukee Public Library (Wis.)
  • Roanoke County Public Library (Va.)
  • Toledo Lucas County Public Library (Ohio)
  • Toronto Public Library (Ontario)

Participants in the working group meeting were also joined by Paul Kihn, Washington D.C.’s Acting Deputy Mayor for Education. Kihn offered a perspective on how public libraries can serve as valuable partners in advancing informed digital citizenship in cities and counties, and how they can serve as models for equitable public data policy and processes to their local government partners.

Following this initial meeting, ULC and its members will work together to develop AI definitions, terminology and frameworks to best position libraries as trusted public institutions for equitable access to AI information and education.

ULC will also develop new tools, educational programming and research to share best practices and insights generated from this initiative with library field leaders.

“As our digital footprints become increasingly intertwined with the pursuits of our dreams, we face enormous challenges to social equity brought on by careless or biased handling of public data,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “As beacons of trust, innovation and information, public libraries are perfectly positioned to lead this work and to establish blueprints for how AI can augment our futures without sacrificing our core democratic values.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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