Opening Keynote - Michael Ridley

Artificial Intelligence and Libraries: Beyond the Hype and Towards the Opportunities and the Challenges

Michael Ridley photo

The hype about artificial intelligence (AI) is overwhelming. Every day brings more dramatic news about super-intelligent systems and job stealing robots. As unsettling as these may be, autonomous, intelligent systems are breakthrough technologies of critical importance to libraries. AI is already embedded in many library tools, systems, and services. And there is much more to come. At the same time, there is troubling evidence regarding bias, fairness, and discrimination in the algorithms that fuel AI. These concerns are especially relevant as libraries activate responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. Let's break through the hype to explore why AI matters to libraries and, more importantly, why libraries matter to AI.


Michael Ridley is a Librarian at the University of Guelph where he served previously as Chief Librarian and Chief Information Officer (CIO). Ridley is also a part-time PhD student at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) at Western University where he is researching artificial intelligence, literacy, information behaviour, and related complications. He holds degrees from Guelph (BA), New Brunswick (MA), and Toronto (MLS & MEd). Ridley blogs at, tweets @mridley, and can be reached at