International Symposium on Robotics and AI in Libraries


In collaboration with IFLA IT Section

The first conference on Robotics in Libraries: Challenge and Opportunity was held at the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau, Berlin in August 2019. Following the successful program and participants’ call for a follow-up event, we are organizing this International Symposium on Robotics and AI in Libraries, 8-10 June, 2020 at University of Pretoria, South Africa.

The rapid development in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are making in-roads into libraries and information services. Beyond automated storage and retrieval systems, we now have autonomous shelf reading robots, telepresence and humanoid robots, and chatbots and voice activated systems. Robots are becoming our co-workers and a number of libraries around the world have deployed different robots for internal operations as well as public services. This combination of skilled human resources and robotics technologies also complements library services in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR or Industry 4.0) era and in smart and connected communities.

The University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa, is hosting the event at its new Future Africa campus ( The UP Department of Library Services “employed” Libby, the first client service robot known to be in use in any university library in Africa. Robotics and AI are also growing fields in many African countries, and this Symposium is a timely event to showcase and increase awareness of developments and realize the potential and challenges for libraries.

We invite your proposals and to join us to share and explore robotics and AI technologies, applications and use cases, human-robot interaction, and their uses and impact on library operations and services. The Symposium will cover topics including but not limited to:

  • Humanoid robots for library services — instruction/teaching, library promotion, information and reference assistance, etc.
  • Autonomous delivery vehicles (ADVs) and other robots for library operations — book transport/delivery, inventory, shelf reading, etc. (excluding automated storage and retrieval system or ASRS)
  • Human-robot interaction design — speech and natural language processing (NLP), facial recognition, etc.
  • Cognitive automation — intelligent process automation using NLP, OCR and machine learning
  • Use and impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) — AI-based virtual assistants, conversational bots, voice assistants, etc.
  • Collaborative robots (cobots) and hybrid robotics/automation, e.g. telepresence robots
  • Ethical and legal issues, algorithmic literacy, transparency, bias, oversight
  • Social considerations, singularity/multiplicity, work-force issues

The Symposium will include:

  • Presentations from experts in the field
  • Panels and round table discussions
  • Hands-on workshop on developing algorithms and applications

Submissions for presentation may include:

  • Regular papers (2000 to 4000 words)
  • Short papers (discussing current work in progress: 1000 to 2000 words)
  • Posters
  • Workshops
  • Demos
  • Other formats will also be considered

At least one of the paper’s authors must be present to deliver a summary of the paper at the Symposium. All expenses for attending the Symposium (eg. travel, accommodation, etc.) are the responsibility of the authors/presenters. No financial support can be provided by the organizers.

All papers that are presented will be made available online under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. All submissions must be original, previously unpublished work, and will be considered for inclusion in an upcoming book to be published on the topic.

The Symposium website is at

Proposals should be submitted at

Important dates:

31 December, 2019 …….
21 January, 2020 ……….
1 February, 2020 ……….
15 May, 2020 …………….
8 June, 2020 ……………..

Deadline for submission

Notification of selection

Registration opens

Full papers submitted

Symposium opens

For further information, please contact

  • May Chang, Chair, Steering Committee
  • Lazarus Matizirofa, Chair, Local Committee


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