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Utilising AI in the Library: A Student's Guide: AI and the Library

Utilising AI in the library.

Please Note: Check with your department or Module Coordinator to make sure you know what type of AI use is acceptable or not in your module coursework.

Generative AI tools have the potential to help students maximise their time in the library. The ability to employ natural language prompts offers students a more intuitive and effective method of searching for   the right resources for their assignments and their research.




For example, AI can be used to:

  • Provide a precis of a book.
  • Get book recommendations.
  • Summarise sections of texts.
  • Create bibliographies.
  • Build a keyword vocabulary for effectively searching the library catalogue.
  • Translate sections of text.

We'll show some examples of these in more detail below, but please remember, you must always follow the guidance on using AI provided by your departments and if you use AI for 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.

For the sake of full transparency, ChatGPT was used to provide the examples shown below. All of the examples have been reproduced verbatim and have not been checked for accuracy.

Providing a Precis of a Book

[I used the following prompt in ChatGPT: In 100 words, summarise Clausewitz's On War for an undergraduate level student]. 

This was the output:

"Clausewitz on War is a seminal work that explores the nature and dynamics of warfare. Written by Carl von Clausewitz, it emphasizes the complex interplay of politics, strategy, and human factors in conflict. The book argues that war is an extension of politics, highlighting the importance of clear objectives and rational decision-making. Clausewitz stresses the significance of understanding the "fog of war" and adapting strategies accordingly. He emphasizes the central role of military leaders in executing plans and adapting to unpredictable circumstances. Overall, Clausewitz on War provides valuable insights into the complexities of warfare and serves as a foundational text for understanding the strategic dimensions of armed conflicts".

Summarising a Section of Text

[I used the following prompt in ChatGPT: Please summarise this piece of text in 150 words]:

I pasted in the first 2657 words of text from the article: Positive Psychology: An Introduction by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2000).

This was the output: 

"Positive psychology is a field that focuses on understanding and promoting well-being, rather than solely focusing on pathology and mental illness. This approach aims to improve the quality of life and prevent the negative outcomes associated with a lack of meaning and fulfillment. The field examines positive subjective experiences, individual traits, and institutions that contribute to a flourishing life. The 15 articles in the special issue of the American Psychologist discuss various topics related to positive psychology, such as happiness, autonomy, optimism, wisdom, creativity, and talent. The authors highlight the need for a shift in psychology from solely repairing weaknesses to also nurturing strengths and virtues. They argue that psychology should contribute to creating a science and profession that supports individuals, communities, and societies in thriving. The articles outline a framework for positive psychology, identify gaps in knowledge, and predict that the next century will witness significant advancements in understanding and building factors that contribute to human flourishing".

Getting Book Recommendations

[I used the following prompt in ChatGPT: I found Nikolas Rose's book, Inventing our selves: psychology, power, and personhood very useful for my studies, please could you recommend five similar titles]: 

This was the output:

  1. "The Birth of Biopolitics: Michel Foucault's Lecture at the Collège de France on Neo-Liberal Governmentality" by Michel Foucault
  2. "The Psychopolitics of Neoliberalism: Governing Britain's Mental Health" by David Harper
  3. "The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling" by Arlie Russell Hochschild
  4. "The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain" by Gina Rippon
  5. "The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness" by R.D. Laing

Build a Keyword Vocabulary for Effectively Searching the Library Catalogue.

[I used the following prompt in ChatGPT: Build a keyword vocabulary for searching the library catalogue for books on the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War]:

This was the output:

"These keywords can be used individually or combined in various search combinations to find relevant books and resources on the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War.

Tet Offensive; Vietnam War; Military history; Guerrilla warfare; Vietnam conflict; Southeast Asia; Cold War; 1968; Communist Forces; United States Involvement; Military Strategy; Counterinsurgency; Battles; Campaigns; Historical Analysis; Political Context; Intelligence Operations; Media Coverage; Impact and Aftermath; Tet Offensive Historiography"


Can't I Just Use Google?

Google is a powerful search engine and offers a speedy and efficient way of retrieving web pages that contain general information, news, reviews, and popular content. However, as its search results may be influenced by advertisements, it may not be the best tool to use for searching for academic resources to support your assignments. 

With its conversational style and its ability to understand natural language, Generative AI may be a better solution for looking for resources which you can then search for in the library catalogue. For example:

  • Generative AI can package information for you instead of just providing links, allowing ease of access to relevant sources.
  • Generative AI can provide information to you at the level you are studying (e.g. undergraduate level). This allows you to get personalised information that is more relevant and understandable.
  • Chat services like ChatGPT can guide you on which keywords and phrases to use to most effectively search the library catalogue.
  • You can use Generative AI to refine previous searches, as it remembers what you have previously asked it.
  • Generative AI can help you summarise and synthesise data from books, web pages and PDFs, etc. so you can see if the content is relevant to your work.
  • There are (currently) no advertisements.


Creating a Bibliography

[I used the following prompt in ChatGPT: Show me five books that are representative works of the Beat Generation writers]:

This was the output:

  1. "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
  2. "Howl and Other Poems" by Allen Ginsberg
  3. "Naked Lunch" by William S. Burroughs
  4. "The Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac
  5. "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" by Tom Wolfe

Translating a Section of Text

[I used the following prompt in ChatGPT: Translate the following into English]:

I chose this Englyn by Huw Morus:

Gwel waeled saled fy seler:
Ysdyr! I osdwng dy falchder.
A chofia ddyn iach ofer,
Nad oes i fyw ond oes fer.

This was the output:

"Behold the thrashing waves of my cellar:
Despair! I deny your pride.
And remember, frail mortal,
There is no life but a short one".

Fun Uses of AI

You can have a lot of book-related fun with AI. Here's just one example. [I used the following prompt in ChatGPT: Please rewrite Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in the style of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones]. This was the output: 

"In the treacherous realm of noble houses and courtly intrigue, "Pride and Prejudice" unfolds as a riveting tale of power, passion, and precarious alliances. The proud House Bennet finds itself entangled in a web of rivalries and schemes, where the game of love is as dangerous as the battle for the Iron Throne.

The formidable matriarch, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, represents the powerful House de Bourgh, whose ambitions know no bounds. Elizabeth Bennet, a fiercely independent and sharp-witted warrior, navigates the treacherous landscape, facing off against the haughty Mr. Darcy, scion of House Darcy. Their clash of wills ignites a fire that threatens to consume them both.

Meanwhile, the cunning Lady Caroline Bingley plots to secure her family's position, while the enigmatic George Wickham reveals dark secrets that could shake the very foundations of society. The stakes are high as alliances shift and hearts are tested amidst the backdrop of a society on the brink of change.

Amidst the grand ballrooms and lush estates, swords are sharpened, and whispered conversations hold the fate of houses. Love and honor clash with pride and prejudice, and the battleground is not just for crowns, but for the hearts of the realm.

In this gripping tale, where loyalty is fleeting and deception lurks around every corner, who will emerge victorious and claim their rightful place on the intricate chessboard of power?"

And whilst we're on the subject of A Game of Thrones, were you disappointed with how it ended? Well maybe now you can finally right those wrongs and also become the Mother of Dragons whilst you are at it. All with the power of AI!

People are still upset about the last season of Game of Thrones, but imagine if you could ask your AI to make a new ending that goes a different way, and maybe even put yourself in there as a main character.” (OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman)