SMU Libraries' first ever Generate Your L(AI)brary Hackathon!

Looking back at the SMU Libraries' first Generate Your L(AI)brary Hackathon

During the second week of the new school term, over 50 SMU undergraduate and postgraduate students participated in the first-ever library hackathon called Generate Your L(AI)brary.

Participants were challenged to create innovative and creative AI-powered applications using OpenAI’s GPT models or open-source models like Llama 2 to enhance the library and research experience. 16 teams competed, and 13 presented their solutions including Chrome extensions and Telegram bots, after 24 hours of hard work.

(From left): Guest of Honor, SMU Dean of the College of Graduate Research Studies Professor Wang Heli and the judges, SMU Associate Professor of Information Systems (Education) Benjamin Gan, SMU Assistant Professor of Accounting Richard Crowley and SMU University Librarian Shameem Nilofar.

The winning team, SMU AI, developed two solutions to simplify research and information search. The first solution generates article summaries and a chatbot that answers questions related to the article, providing links to specific sections where the answers are derived. The second solution is a chatbot that responds to library-related enquiries, such as borrowing limits and fine payment procedures, accessible via the web and Telegram.

Members from the winning team, SMU AI (From left): Yee Sen Tan, Wei Bin Au Yeong, Donghao Huang and SMU University Librarian Shameem Nilofar.

The teams did not walk this journey alone. Mentors from various industries including Arvind Sethumadhavan (Founder, The AI Living Lab), Charu Srivastava Amprs (Chief Strategy Officer and Corporate Affairs Lead, TriOn & Co), Marc Astbury (Lead Designer, Jenn AI) and SMU faculty member Associate Professor Tony Tang provided guidance in the areas of problem definition, human computer interaction, user experience and pitching. The library mentors, Samantha Seah, Ooi Kooi Cheng, Bella Ratmelia and Aaron Tay, prepared the library-related data and APIs and shortened the learning curve on library domain matters.

Mentor, Arvind Sethumadhavan (fifth from left) who is also a mentor for SMU Institute of Innovation & Entrepreurship (IIE), listening to the team’s idea.
The team seeking input from mentor and SMU alumna, Charu Srivastava Amprs (second from right).
Mentor, SMU Associate Professor of Computer Science Tony Tang (first from right) in discussion with one of the teams.
Taking a breather with a group photo: Mentor, Arvind Sethumadhavan (fifth from left) with library mentors, Aaron Tay (fourth from left), Bella Ratmelia (sixth from left), Samantha Seah (seventh from left) and Ooi Kooi Cheng (first from right) with the organising team.

Feedback from participants captures the whole experience - the sense of apprehension at the start of the hackathon, the excitement of stretching one’s capabilities, and how this experience has helped them gain confidence and form new connections.

The event ended with the unveiling of the newly rebranded Investment and Data Studio (IDS), an initiative by SMU Libraries to create a space that fosters engagement amongst those interested in data skills.

The organisers are grateful to InfoHost and SpringNature for sponsoring the honourable mention prizes, and to SMU Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship for their recommendation of mentors.