The University of Pretoria's Department of Library Services, in partnership with the International Federation of Library Association's IT section, will host the second International Symposium on Robotics and Al in Libraries from 10-11 November 2021. The event will be held virtually.
The rapid development in robotics and artificial intelligence (Al) technologies are making inroads into libraries and information services. Beyond automated storage and retrieval systems, we now have autonomous shelf reading robots, telepresence and humanoid robots, chatbots and voice-activated systems. Robots are becoming our co-workers and a number of libraries around the world have deployed different robots for internal operations, as well as for public services. The Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria became the first academic library in Africa to use a service robot librarian, named Libby, and recently the Faculty of Health Sciences acquired another robot, called Stevie – a mobile robot that will help improve the treatment of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The symposium will host the following two keynote speakers: Professor Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, as well as Professor Caroline Nicholson, Registrar at the University of Pretoria. Some of the other guest speakers include Professor Arthur GO Mutambara, Executive Director and Full Professor, Institute for the Future of Knowledge (University of Johannesburg); Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor (University of Johannesburg), Dr Edmund Balnaves, Prosentient Systems; Professor Nelishia Pillay, Head of the Department of Computer Science (University of Pretoria), Professor Wynand Steyn, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering (University of Pretoria) and Professor Dr Ing Johannes Trabert, MetraLabs GmbH, Jena University of Applied Sciences, Germany.
According to Lazarus Matizirofa, Deputy Director, Scholarly Communication, Digital Systems and Services: "As a leading academic library in Africa, the Department of Library Services wants to go beyond robots and introduce virtual reality: the next big thing for modern libraries, as well as other smart emerging and innovative technological habitat in library and information services of the 21st century."