*Note, this essay was not at all created with the assistance of AI.
I am an absolute technology novice and an old school book nerd. I’ll graduate with my MLS this spring, and when I entered the academic program, I had no idea the massive role that technology now plays in librarianship. I may have romanticized the profession of old, replete with visions of bun-having, glasses-wearing, shushing librarians still using giant card catalogs. I cherish books–you know, the kind you can hold and smell. I pride myself on my intellectual prowess and diligence. Artificial intelligence has not thus far been “my thing.”

Last semester, I was working hard on creating a lesson plan for one of my classes. I sourced my output entirely from my brain and the rubric for that course. Not being a seasoned teacher, this took me a long time–hours. My husband, a casual PC gamer who embraces technologic advances and builds his own computers, saw my efforts and asked what I was doing. After I answered him, he went back to his office and returned in less than 3 minutes with a printout of a lesson plan he obtained from ChatGPT.

My intellectual arrogance was punched in the nose by AI in the time it takes to brew weak tea.

Fast forward several months, and I was at a conference learning about all of the amazing things that AI can do—namely, generate insanely fun art limited only by one’s imagination. I heard teacher-librarians discuss how they use AI with their students, teaching them to critique output. I was intrigued, but not enough to try AI on my own. I’ve been perfectly happy to generate my own creative output, thank you very much.

Then came SLAAIT. I started to dabble. Once I began to type things into Poe and ChatGPT, it unlocked my curiosity, and counterintuitively, creativity. I also learned the limitations of AI, and in a very short time span have a much better understanding of what these tools cannot do—yet. The delusions of grandeur I had of plugging in some spreadsheet data and getting back impeccably designed graphics were dashed when it instead first gave me Python code and then instructions to make a chart in Excel.

I still have a chip on my shoulder. These AI outputs are all style and no substance, right? Human brains > computer intelligence, right?

What I have learned (in my cumulative 30 minutes with AI) is that if you don’t know how to use it, AI won’t help you. In the right hands, though, this tool can make our lives easier, if you know what you want to do with it. I look forward to dislodging the chip from my shoulder soon.

So what do we want to do with AI, state libraries?

Leila exploring the functionalities of ChatGPT.

This post was thoughtfully contributed by Leila Green little.