Library sector seeks more cooperation to capitalize on AI influence
Published: Jun 05, 2024 08:02 PM
National Library of China Photo: VCG

National Library of China Photo: VCG

China and Russia are seeking more cooperation in facing the challenges and potential opportunities that artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing to the library sector, officials and experts said at the Second China-Russia Library Forum held in Beijing.

The forum, one of the important events for the China-Russia Years of Culture, kicked off at the National Library of China on Tuesday. 

Over 60 leading experts from major libraries in Russia and China gathered at the forum to strengthen and expand cooperation, create and implement joint projects, share best practices in library services and the digital transformation of libraries, as well as discuss the development of smart libraries.

Chen Ying, deputy director of the National Library of China, expressed her optimism for the expansion of exchanges and collaboration in the library sector at the opening ceremony, highlighting the forum as a crucial platform for enhancing communication and connectivity between Chinese and Russian libraries.

Vadim Duda, director general of the Russian State Library and president of the Russian Library Association, told the Global Times that both China and Russia boast a long history as well as collect lots of ancient books, thus need to be more careful when incorporating modern technology like AI into libraries.

He mentioned that he was very interested in how Chinese libraries serve such a large  population, which is almost 10 times larger than the population of Russia. Meanwhile, Chinese libraries have great experiences both online and offline, which he wants to explore more. 

On the other hand, Duda said Russia also has many "ambitious and innovative" projects that he would like to share with his Chinese counterparts. He gave an example that Russia has launched a project called the National Electronic Library, which means they collect all the books printed in Russian in electronic format under the guidance of a federal law. Meanwhile, the Russian federal government provides strong support for the modernization of municipal libraries. 

"There are more than 42,000 libraries in the Russian federation. Every year 300 out of this number are renovated and modernized with federal support. It is a great project," he added.

Nadezhda Dorgunova, minister of culture and national politics of the Amur Region also touched upon the close ties between the libraries of the Amur Region and Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. 

Regular exhibitions and book exchanges are common, and currently, a book is being planned that delves into the dark history of the Japanese army and its involvement in Japan's infamous germ warfare during the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45). This book will focus on the Japanese army's research into biological and bacteriological warfare, as well as human experimentation outside of Japan, marking a significant testimony of the atrocities committed against the Chinese people from 1931 to 1945.

Some scholars from libraries focusing on minority ethnic groups also attended the forum.

Wang Fengdan, a staff member from a library in the city of Manzhouli in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, told the Global Times that digitizing minority databases is of great significance in protecting minority history. She said she hoped that the forum could facilitate exchanges with similar scholars from Russia.

The event, which took place amid the celebration of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, has been instrumental in showcasing the value and strength of libraries in a multipolar world. It has also set the stage for a new chapter in the high-quality development of library services in both countries, Chen added.

The joint statement signed by the leaders of both countries in mid-May, commemorating the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, clearly outlined the intention to comprehensively engage in exchanges in areas such as libraries and to continue organizing library forums. This directive has spurred the establishment of more extensive collaborative fields within the China-Russian library community, according to a document that the National Library of China issued on Wednesday.