The Third International Conference of Agricultural Librarians and Users Community (ICALUC-2023), themed “Agricultural Libraries and Sustainable Development Goals: The Way Forward,” commenced at Pal Auditorium, hosted by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) as part of its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Organized in collaboration with the Association of Agricultural Libraries and Documentarists (AALDI), the conference started on a high note with distinguished speakers and experts addressing the convergence of agricultural libraries, AI, and sustainable development.

Chief Guest of the day, Dr RC Agrawal, Deputy Director General (Agril. Edn) and National Director, NAHEP, ICAR, New Delhi, emphasized integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into libraries to prepare for the future. He detailed ICAR’s digitization initiatives in Indian libraries, particularly during the COVID era. He highlighted Krishikosh, an open-access digital repository, as a vital resource for India’s agricultural research and education community. Dr. Agrawal stressed the importance of aligning the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with agricultural libraries to achieve global food security and sustainable agriculture. Drawing inspiration from Max Tegmark’s “LIFE 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Dr. Agrawal explored AI’s potential, its role in an AI-driven world, and the benefits and risks associated with its usage. He called for librarians to harness AI for the “One Nation, One Subscription” policy proposed by the Indian Government, emphasizing the need for capacity building to make digital libraries accessible.

In his presidential remarks, PAU Vice Chancellor Dr Sabir Singh Gosal praised the ongoing shift toward digital self-learning and peer learning while emphasizing the alignment of agricultural library goals with the UN’s SDGs. Dr Gosal underscored the pivotal role of AI-enabled libraries as repositories of knowledge and resources contributing to sustainable agriculture, food security, and rural development. He highlighted PAU’s leadership in agricultural research, teaching, and extension activities and commended the university’s optimal use of Krishi Kosh and AI-enabled library software. Dr Gosal congratulated the conference organizers for addressing the challenges of digitizing critical content and repositioning libraries in an AI-enabled world.

Guest of Honor, Dr Anuradha Agrawal, National Coordinator, NAHEP-CAAST, ICAR, New Delhi, stressed the need for user-friendly technology with sustainability in mind. She called for discussions on cataloguing in a metaverse world and the design of future libraries to enhance efficiency and provide timely and need-based information.

Keynote Speaker Dr K. Veeranjaneyulu, Librarian, NIT, Warangal, Telangana, emphasized the role of agricultural knowledge dissemination in achieving SDGs related to hunger eradication, health improvement, education enhancement, and economic growth. He highlighted India’s ranking as a global leader in digital systems for document delivery but urged Indian students to maximize using Krishi Khoj, the world’s largest agricultural database.

Dr KN Kandpal, President of AALDI, recognized efforts to advance digital agricultural libraries, aligning them with sustainability and stakeholder empowerment.

Earlier, Dr OP Chaudhry, PAU University Librarian and President, ICALUC- 2023, extended a formal welcome to the dignitaries and delegates of the conference. The event included the release of conference proceedings, logos, and books by PAU scientists Dr Savita Sharma and Dr Rajan Sharma. It concluded with the felicitation of dignitaries and a vote of thanks by Mr Subhash Chand, Librarian, ICAR-CIFE, Mumbai. Outside the venue, various publishing houses showcased their offerings. Dr Sumedha Bhandari, Assistant Professor of English, coordinated the inaugural function.

The technical sessions will see brainstorming sessions on emerging technology innovations and augmented and virtual reality applications in agricultural libraries, artificial intelligent tools for measuring footfalls, institutional repositories, next-generation librarians, etc., that will have speakers from India and abroad.

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