Hee Rin Lee wins National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services  

Hee Rin Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University, recently was awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for her project “AI & Co-design in public libraries: Empowering underserved youth to cultivate symbiotic relationships between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their communities."   

“This library grant from a federal agency is a stepping stone for me to continue exploring this topic since libraries are one of the most well developed and maintained infrastructures in the U.S.,” Lee said.  

The project, started in August, is a two-year grant that totals $249,865.97 in support.  

Lee (PI) is joined in the grant by Kahyun Choi (co-PI), an assistant professor of information and library science at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana.   

With the grant, Lee and Choi are working on finding out how robots/AIs and humans can not only exist together – but benefit each other – especially in underserved communities.  

“Economically underserved communities, in particular, are vulnerable to AI’s negative consequences as they are largely excluded from the decision-making process of envisioning AI technologies in society,” Lee said. “Thus, I wanted to develop a publicly available education program for low-SES [socioeconomic status] students.”  

According to Lee, public libraries are great ways to help disseminate AI information to the public.  

In partnership with the Young Adult Library Services Association, the grant will help with AI program creation at the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Michigan, the San Diego Central Library in San Diego, California, and the Carroll County Public Library in New Windsor, Maryland.  

“I hope we can generate a good foundation for an AI education program in public libraries,” Lee said. “This is the first attempt to develop an AI education program in library settings.. In the long term, I hope that I could deploy this program to more than these three states.”  

By Jennifer Trenkamp