Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
September 2002

Volume 8 Number 9

ISSN 1082-9873

Digital Library: IT Opportunities and Challenges in the New Millennium

8 - 12 July 2002, Beijing, China


Suzie Allard
University of Kentucky

Red Line


Highlights: An international conference with more than 350 participants from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as well as twelve other countries. The announcement of the government-supported China Digital Library Project. An extensive program including tutorials, keynotes, invited talks, papers, and exhibits. A beautiful venue featuring excellent conditions for speakers and attendees including fluent translators. An ambiance that promoted socializing at delicious meals and interesting field trips. Proceedings and tutorial notes provided in bound volumes and on CD-ROM.

"Digital Library: IT Opportunities and Challenges in the New Millennium" highlighted the role a digital library can take as a national resource and as a focus of international cooperation in research and development. The opening session of the conference introduced the China Digital Library Project that will provide a comprehensive information infrastructure for the nation and is envisioned as a driver for economic and social development.

The conference attracted 361 participants representing countries on three continents. Because of the international scope of the conference, translation services were provided in both Chinese and English, and many of the written materials were bilingual. A keynote speaker headlined each of three plenary sessions that featured thirteen prominent experts from around the world addressing key issues associated with DL development and implementation. The keynotes were delivered by Hu Qiheng, Ching-chih Chen, and Hsinchun Chen.

Forty-eight competitive papers were grouped by theme and presented in sessions that were run in four concurrent tracks. Themes were identified as:

  • DL technologies,
  • DL theories and models,
  • organization and development of digital resources,
  • searching system structure,
  • metadata,
  • DL standards,
  • digitization of ancient works,
  • cooperation and resource sharing,
  • intellectual property, and
  • use of the digital library.

Each paper session provided ample time for questions and discussion, and attendees received proceedings containing all the papers.

The pre-conference on July 8 included eight two-hour tutorials that were presented in two tracks, and delegates were given a bound set of materials from all eight. Workshops addressed many issues including:

  • building DLs for the future (Liz Lyon),
  • resolving intellectual property issues (Zhen Xihui),
  • challenges for large-scale content building (Ching-chih Chen),
  • challenges for capturing and archiving broadcast audio and visual (Howard Wactlar),
  • knowledge management systems (Hsinchun Chen),
  • DL requirements, theory, systems and projects (Edward A. Fox), and
  • XML (Catherine Lupovici) and evaluation of DL usability (Christine Borgman).

After a day at the DL conference, participants could peruse vendor and DL project displays at the Beijing International Exhibition of Digital Info-Service and Technology which was being held only blocks away.

The conference provided ample opportunities to socialize during tea breaks, and at tasty meals as well as while on tour to notable libraries including the National Library of China, the Capital Library, Tsinghua University Library, and Peking University Library. The final day of the conference featured a choice of tours to well-known cultural treasures in the area including the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace.

Beijing, China's capital and center of technological innovation, was a hospitable host city, and the Friendship Hotel's park-like setting provided excellent facilities for lodging, as well as for conference functions. The conference was sponsored by the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Culture and organized by the National Library of China. Three committees coordinated the event: the Organizing Committee headed by Sun Jiazheng (chair, Minister of Culture) and Zhou Heping (vice chair, Vice-Minister of Culture); the Professional Committee chaired by Zhang Bo (Professor, Tsinghua University), and the Technical Committee chaired by Hsinchun Chen (Professor, University of Arizona).

Copyright 2002 Suzie Allard

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DOI: 10.1045/september2002-allard