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Utilising AI in the Library: A Student's Guide: What is AI?

What is AI?

AI is short for Artificial Intelligence. This is a field of computer science that focuses on creating what appear to be intelligent machines that are capable of performing tasks that have usually required human intelligence. AI involves developing algorithms and systems that can learn from data, recognize patterns, and make decisions or predictions based on those algorithms or systems.

AI enables machines to understand, reason, and interact with the world in ways that simulate human cognition. Examples of AI applications that you might have come across in everyday life include chat assistants, image recognition, autonomous vehicles, and recommendation systems (for films, music or shopping). AI has the potential to revolutionize various industries, improve efficiency, and solve complex problems. However, it also raises important ethical considerations regarding privacy, bias, and the impact on jobs and society.

This Library Guide will focus on Generative AI. We will examine how students can effectively employ it to maximize their library experience. The guide will also address the limitations as well as the ethical considerations associated with its use.

Information in this guide is current as of June 2023.

What is Generative AI?

Generative AI (ChatGPT, Bard, Dall-E, etc). is a relatively new technology that focuses on creating new and original content, such as images, music, or text, using artificial intelligence.

Unlike traditional AI systems that rely on predefined rules, generative AI models learn from vast amounts of data to generate content.

Despite its name, Generative AI is not intelligent, but works more like predictive text. By understanding patterns and styles from existing examples, a system like ChatGPT can mimic and generate new content that appears remarkably realistic. 

It's not just ChatGPT, other AI tools are Available.

While ChatGPT is widely recognized as one of the most popular Generative AI tools, Bard and Dall-E have also gained much media attention. However, It's important to mention that there is a increasing variety of alternative options emerging in this field.

If you want to further explore these AI options then Futurepedia serves as a comprehensive directory showcasing the extensive array of AI tools that are currently available.

AI in the News

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Utilising AI: Key Facts

You must follow the latest guidance on AI supplied by your department.

If you use AI for your assessed work, be transparent and acknowledge that you have used it.

Outputs generated by AI:

  • May not be up-to-date.
  • May be inaccurate.
  • May be biased.

If you use Generative AI in any part of your assessed work, it is your responsibility to check all outputs generated by the AI to make sure that the information produced is current and correct..

Due to privacy and security concerns we would not recommend putting personal data into AI systems.

The AI landscape is developing very quickly and guidance that is current now, may be subject to change. 

In this Guide we will be examining these and other aspects of utilising AI within a library context.

Ethics and AI

The use of Generative AI raises a number of ethical issues. These might include, but are not limited to:

Educational Equity: AI could widen the gap between students with access to technology and those without. Students who don't have access to AI tools could be excluded from the benefits of AI-enhanced learning experiences.

Privacy and the Security of Personal Data: Putting personal data into AI systems can lead to privacy violations if the data is mishandled, misused, or accessed by unauthorized individuals.

Academic Integrity: The use of AI tools to solve problems or to generate content for assignments, could undermine academic integrity.

Dependency on AI: Overreliance on AI for learning and problem-solving can impact the development of critical thinking and can mean that students bypass the learning process. 

Climate Concerns: The production of the AI hardware necessitates the mining of rare materials often causing landscape degradation, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. This coupled with the energy-intensive processes involved in running and training AI systems means that the AI industry has a significant environmental footprint. 

The Impact of AI on Employability

In the near future, the job market is expected to undergo significant transformations due to the influence of AI. As a result, students' career choices may be influenced by the potential impact of AI on various professions.

While AI automation may replace certain routine tasks, it may also create new opportunities. Students who acquire AI-related skills, such as data analysis, machine learning, and programming, could gain a competitive edge. AI can enhance career paths in fields like data science, AI engineering, and digital marketing. Opportunities will not just be limited to the sciences: enhanced research capabilities, language support and translation assistance, content creation, and data analysis are all potential positive impacts of AI on humanities and social sciences careers.

Students who adapt to the evolving AI-driven job market and who possess a blend of technical proficiency, critical thinking, and creativity will be well-positioned to thrive in the future workforce.

Where Can I Get Help?

It is vital that you follow all the current guidance on the use of AI provided by your department. 

If you would like to know how you can utilise AI in finding library resources then please do come and see us at:

  •   The enquiries desk on Level F of the Hugh Owen Library.
  •   The enquiries desk in the Physical Sciences Library

Or contact your subject librarian.

You can also email us at:

For more general information about the library see our Guides.


University Guidance on Using AI

The University guidelines state that "presenting work generated by AI as if it were your own" is a form of plagiarism and therefore constitutes unacceptable  academic practice. Full details on the University's guidelines on unacceptable practice can be found here

Further information on referencing and plagiarism can be found in our Referencing and Plagiarism Awareness Library Guide

Departmental Guidance on Using AI

Student's Union Guidance on Using AI

The Future of AI

AI has wide-ranging implications across many sectors. For universities future developments in AI may include:

  • AI-powered educational tools, such as intelligent tutoring systems and adaptive learning platforms, will be able to personalize the learning experience and cater to the individual needs and preferences of students.
  • AI can accelerate research processes by automating data analysis, literature reviews, and pattern recognition. Researchers may be able to use AI algorithms to process vast amounts of information, identify trends, and generate insights, leading to ground breaking 
  • AI technologies can help create a more inclusive learning environment by providing support for students with disabilities. For example, AI-powered transcription services can assist students who are hearing impaired, while natural language processing can aid students with reading difficulties.


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