2024 CEAL conference shareout

The Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL) 2024 Annual Meeting convened in Seattle, Washington from March 13th to 14th. This series of annual conferences has long been one of the core professional events for the East Asian studies librarianship community. Below you will read about reflections on this year’s CEAL trip shared by Soojin Lee (Korean Acquisition Assistant) and Gengna Wang (Chinese Cataloger), two of our colleagues from the Asia Library Technical Services team. 

This CEAL annual conference brought together East Asia librarians and professionals for a vibrant exchange of ideas and insights. It was also my first time attending CEAL conferences. Let me delve into the highlights of this intellectually stimulating gathering.

Prior to the official commencement of the annual meeting, participants engaged in pre-conference cataloging training, sharpening their skills in organizing and managing library resources. The University of Washington East Asia Library team graciously hosted a warm welcome reception. Attendees had the opportunity to mingle, connect, and explore the Tateuchi East Asia Library, a treasure trove of knowledge.

This year’s CEAL meeting centered around the theme of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and Its Impact on East Asian Libraries. The plenary sessions delved into the multifaceted implications of A.I. within the field of East Asian libraries.

Plenary Session I keynote speakers provided valuable insights: Alice Zhao from Microsoft shared her expertise on A.I. development; Dr. Kwok Leong Tang, a Harvard lecturer of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, explored specific examples of A.I. applications in digital curation and research; Dr. Bill Howe, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s Information School, contributed to the discourse on A.I. 

Plenary Session II featured a panel discussion, where experts grappled with the challenges of embracing A.I. in our personal and professional lives. Topics ranged from copyright considerations for A.I.-generated works to crafting bibliographies for partially or fully A.I.-created content.

The second day of the conference showcased practical applications of A.I.. Some real-life examples of A.I. in library settings being discussed included:

  • Korean-to-Roman Letter Translation: Recent developments in A.I. programming enables efficient translation of Korean text into Roman letters, enhancing accessibility and usability.
  • Chatbots for User Accessibility: The National Library of Korea leverages chatbots powered by A.I. to assist users, providing prompt and personalized responses.

Workshop led by Dr. Kwok Leong Tang at the Library Technology Forum was a captivating exploration into the realm of “Crafting Effective Inquiries in ChatGPT and more.”  I appreciate the intersection of A.I. and our field, and Dr. Tang adeptly illuminated its potential. Here are the key takeaways from Dr. Tang’s workshop:

  • Dr. Tang guided attendees through practical applications of A.I. generative tools within the context of the East Asian studies librarianship, our specific domain. By selecting appropriate examples and prompts, chatbots can assist with tasks related to Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and even MARC records.
  • The marriage of human expertise and A.I. capabilities promises to enhance our cataloging and information retrieval processes.

During this conference, concerns regarding AI replacing Librarians jobs were brought up several times. It’s natural for librarians to harbor concerns about A.I. potentially replacing their roles. However, ongoing projects across universities reveal that the current accuracy of A.I. in certain librarian functions falls short of our expectations. The immediate threat of A.I. replacing our jobs seems minimal. Instead, we should view A.I. as a collaborator, augmenting our abilities rather than supplanting them. CEAL meetings provided a fertile ground for exploring how generative A.I. can seamlessly integrate into our daily workflows and how we can leverage A.I. to enhance accessibility for the public, making our curated works more widely available and engaging.

It seems vital at this point to embrace the change at our workplace. The responsibility lies with us, as individuals, to embrace the evolving landscape. Let us shift our perspectives on A.I., recognizing its potential for positive impact. Together, we can forge a framework where A.I. serves both librarians and the public in a rapidly changing world.

-----Soojin Lee (Korean Acquisition Assistant) 

I would like to bring to our attention one of the CEAL presentations that I am particularly interested in: AI Tools Applied to Metadata Enhancement and Manipulation. It was a presentation on applying AI tools to technical processing in academic libraries, featured in the Committee on Technical Processing session.

The presenter Professor Takashi Harada (Doshisha University, Japan) demonstrated using Generative AI (ChatGPT, Machine Learning, RAG, and Fine-Tuning) in book cataloging and classification. The experiments conducted were:

  • Classification of Books Using ChatGPT; and Classification with Machine Learning
  • Cataloging by combining OCR technology and ChatGPT; Cataloging with Machine Learning
  • Enhanced Classification using RAG; Classification using Fine-Tuning

Based on all the results of the experiments, the presentation discussed the limits, challenges, and future of Generative AI applied in technical processing in libraries. Professor Harada argued that the experiments "demonstrated that generative AI, in its current state, does not fully meet the needs for library organization tasks." In the meantime, he emphasized the importance of data quality (detailed and high bibliographic data) in AI training. As a cataloger, I believe we need to play a role in training AI to assist us in creating high quality metadata, which "accurately captures the essence of books and their interconnectedness." 

-----Gengna Wang (Chinese Cataloger)

Note: For more information about the presentations Soojin and Gengna discussed, please visit CEAL conference webpage.