Organized by the National Chengchi University (NCCU) Library and advised by the Ministry of Education, on April 28th and 29th the 2021 (26th) National College and University Chief Librarians Conference was held at the Yushan International Conference Hall of NCCU’s College of Commerce, the Dah Hsian Seetoo Library, and the Platinum Hotel in New Taipei City. This year’s theme was “University Libraries in Transformation: Smart Service and Innovative Learning.” About 130 participants, including university librarians and representatives of the Ministry of Education and the National Library, gathered to discuss a variety of topics, including strategies for providing innovative services and resources in light of current trends, comprehensive library management, and future developments in library management.
At the opening ceremony, NCCU President Dr. Kuo Ming-Cheng said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary to devise innovative teaching methods, presenting considerable challenges for educators in terms of teaching and curriculum, and has also highlighted the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological developments in the post-pandemic era. NCCU head librarian Mr. Chen Chih-Ming said that the Library is currently dedicating considerable resources to creating a digital learning environment and making library research more efficient for both teachers and students, adding that working together is the best way to find the best approaches for dealing with the exigencies brought about by the pandemic.
One of the highlights of the conference was the talk “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Educational Ecology: The Challenge for Libraries” by Chair Professor Dr. Chang Kuo-En of the Graduate Institute of Information and Computer Education at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU). Taking the perspective of learning theory, Dr. Chang said that rapid advances in AI are making distance learning an increasingly significant mode of education, a significance made all the more poignant by the Covid-19 pandemic. He also said that in the interaction between humans and technology, technology should be seen as an auxiliary tool, including the proper use of AI to enhance human intelligence and the application of AI to a wide variety of library services, including retrieval, searching, guidance, user services, logistics, and automatic indexing and classification. Dr. Chang also discussed a number of future challenges for libraries and effective strategies for dealing with them.
Following Chang’s talk, participating Head Librarians formed into small groups and discussed a number of related topics, including implementing the social responsibilities of university libraries, data analysis, cooperation between technology and the humanities, expanding resource sharing between libraries, and initiating data-driven innovation. Amongst the issues brought up by the 15 Head Librarians at the conference were combining corporate resources in a sustainable and socially responsible fashion; using AI analysis to provide accurate and personalized services; using virtual and real integration of space and technology to encourage teachers and students to participate in the design of library services; and using alliances to maximize the efficiency of library services during the pandemic. While discussing innovative learning and the efficient provision of library services from a wide variety of perspectives, it became clear that libraries have an irreplaceable role to play in this era of rapid technological development and incessant social change.
In the panel discussion, Wang Shu-Juan of the Ministry of Education and Miss Wu of the National Library joined the Head Librarians and the representatives of various alliances in discussing such topics as the university library’s social and educational responsibilities; the role of AI in the provision of innovation services; the copyright status and preservation of digital and printed theses and dissertations; and a national system for comparing theses dissertations. The lively discussions from a variety of different angles shed much light on each topic, at the same time clarifying the future development of university libraries in terms of management strategy and the development of innovative services.
The conference also included demonstrations of the latest software and hardware developed by various companies, providing participating Head Librarians with a sneak preview of the next generation of information technology. The participants were also given a guided tour of NCCU’s Dah Hsian Seetoo Library, which officially opened in February of 2020, and were highly impressed by its design, facilities, and beautiful natural environment—all made possible by alumni donations.
Following the conference, the participants were given a guided tour of the Maokong scenic area by a member of the Nature Trail Society. The tour included visits to the Taipei Tea Promotion Center and a stream with intriguing potholed boulders, where everybody enjoyed the soothing sound of the gurgling water leisurely flowing past. The tour concluded with a ride on the Maokong Gondola, replete with majestic views of the nighttime scenery, providing a perfect conclusion to two days of insightful and enriching talks and presentations. Next year’s conference will be held at National Chung Hsing University.
The conference also included demonstrations of the latest software and hardware developed by various companies. (Source: NCCU library)