Unlocking the World of AI: A Recap of the Series

AI Ambassadors: Building Expertise and Engagement in Libraries, Fall 2023

LibraryLinkNJ and the LibraryLinkNJ Technology Advisory Group (L-TAG) are delighted to share the success of the recently concluded "AI Ambassadors" program, a transformative AI training series tailored for tech-savvy library staff from multitype libraries across New Jersey.

The AI Ambassadors program consisted of three insightful virtual sessions and a dynamic in-person event, attracting a diverse group of 20 participants eager to explore the realms of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The series covered a spectrum of topics, providing participants with a robust foundation in AI concepts, hands-on experiences with cutting-edge AI tools, and practical insights into integrating AI applications within library settings. 

NJ AI Ambassadors

NJ AI Ambassadors (in the photo from the left):
More photos will be posted soon!

  • ShaBree Henry, Paterson Free Public Library;
  • Richard Loomis, Somerset County Library System;
  • Mary Catherine Sudiak, Cranford Public Library;
  • Jonathan Jiras, Rowan University Library;
  • Heather Caldwell, Ringwood Public Library;
  • Kim Livingston, Mercer County Library;
  • Joanne Parra, Moorestown Library;
  • Heather Lubchansky, Sussex County Library System;
  • Dr. Aneliia Chatterjee, Essex County College Library;
  • Maria Dunbar, Jefferson Township High School Library; D
  • avid Williams, William Paterson University Library;
  • Mary Martin, Wanaque Borough Public Library;
  • Andy Woodworth, Camden County College Library;
  • Sharon Whitfield, Rider University Library;
  • Jonathan Upton, Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium (LMxAC);
  • Daphne Bishop-Brown, Irvington Public Library;
  • Joseph Pascale, Middlesex County College Library;
  • Jon Braun, LibraryLinkNJ;
  • Charlie Ma, Jersey Shore University Medical Center Library;
  • Christine Rambo, Gloucester County Library System

Series Highlights:

  • AI Foundations (Virtual - October 19, 2023):
    • Presented by Jim Craner, The Galecia Group
    • Explored the history, principles, and societal impacts of AI.
    • Participants gained a deep understanding of fundamental AI concepts and their broader implications.
  • AI Tool Time (Virtual - October 26, 2023):
    • Presented by Jim Craner, The Galecia Group
    • Introduced participants to top AI Language Model (LLM) and Image Generation providers.
    • Hands-on experimentation allowed participants to explore the strengths, features, and applications of each tool.
  • AI Applications in the Library (Virtual - November 3, 2023):
    • Presented by Jim Craner, The Galecia Group
    • Emphasized practical applications, focusing on using AI-driven prompts and integrations.
    • Participants identified ways AI can enhance library tasks, developed ideas for AI integration, and understood nuances in library-specific scenarios.
  • Team Building and Creating Training Plan (In-person):
    • Focused on team-building activities and creating actionable AI training plans.
    • The main program, 'Creating a Training Plan,' was presented by Darby Malvey, Programming and Outreach Manager at LibraryLinkNJ to enhance the development of participants' training plans.
    • Jim Craner of The Galecia Group joined the group via zoom to discuss their progress.
    • Participants engaged in discussions to solidify their learning and plan for AI implementation in their libraries.

Feedback from participants echoes the success and impact of the program:

  • "Compliments to LLNJ and its staff on the well-coordinated and enlightening AI Ambassador program."
  • "Opened doors to a better understanding of AI concepts, allowing for an informed approach to researching and incorporating these tools."
  • "Enjoyed the discussions and gained insights into AI's impact on academia."

The whole series was moderated by Doug Baldwin (Piscataway Public Library), L-TAG Chair. LibraryLinkNJ extends our gratitude to him for his leadership and to the entire L-TAG’s AI Series Planning team for their efforts in making this series happen.

Looking Ahead: Opportunities for NJ Library Staff:
As the AI Ambassadors program concludes, LibraryLinkNJ and L-TAG invite library staff across New Jersey to anticipate the ripple effects of this transformative initiative. With participants now equipped with a wealth of AI knowledge and practical experience, the program's success sets the stage for broader opportunities:

  • NJ Libraries AI Interest Group:
    • Participants are actively engaging in the NJ Libraries AI Interest Group, fostering a collaborative space for ongoing learning and knowledge-sharing
    • Jon Braun, Online Learning & Digital Content Specialist at LibraryLinkNJ, will serve as the AI Ambassadors Group Leader to uphold the value of this unique series.
  • Nationwide AI Community Involvement:
    • Joining a nationwide interest group managed by the Galecia Group opens doors to staying informed on the latest AI developments and trends.
  • Impactful Community Outreach:
    • Participants commit to providing at least one AI training session for library staff in their local area or participating in a group presentation at a library event or conference by the end of June 2024

LibraryLinkNJ and L-TAG are proud to have facilitated the series that not only provided valuable AI insights but also fostered collaboration and networking within the library community. The AI Ambassadors program sets the stage for continued growth, learning, and the integration of AI into libraries throughout New Jersey.

For library staff eager to embark on their AI journey, the door to knowledge and community awaits. Stay tuned for future opportunities and initiatives from LibraryLinkNJ, where we continue to empower libraries for a tech-forward future.