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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
September/October 2007

Volume 13 Number 9/10

ISSN 1082-9873

Report on the Seventh ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2007) - Building and Sustaining the Digital Environment

June 18-23, 2007, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Lillian (Boots) Cassel
Villanova University

José Borbinha
Instituto Superior Técnico (IST)

Red Line


After attracting a record number of paper submissions, JCDL 2007 opened in glorious weather in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The weather held for most of the week, tempting attendees to enjoy the views and the opportunities for good walks. Fortunately, there was a lot to hold people indoors for the sessions arranged by conference chair Edie Rasmussen of the University of British Columbia and Program co-chairs Shigeo Sugimoto, Elaine Toms and Ray Larson. The conference web site at <> provides a comprehensive record of the activities and the entire organizing committee and program committee.

The conference tutorial program opened on Monday, June 18, with an introduction to DSpace and continued on Tuesday with a variety of half and full day sessions. Subjects included the traditional Thesauri and Ontologies in Digital Libraries and a number of new topics ranging from introductions to building digital collections, project management for digital collections and digital curation and preservation, to building digital libraries on Service Oriented Architectures and mining the Internet Archive for academic research. One workshop, on developing a digital libraries education program, shared the Monday startup.

Tuesday also saw the 2007 doctoral consortium, providing a venue for students to discuss their work outside their home departments and receive constructive critiques and encouragement. Faculty participants shared their experience and enriched the students' exposure to the digital libraries community.

Keynote speakers piqued interest and sparked discussions. Daniel Russell continued several years of the Google presence at JCDL and described issues related to finding what people want, given the not-always-clear ways they request that information. While it would have been nice to hear more specifics about how Google addresses these issues, that is understandably not open to public presentation. The presentation of issues, however, did suggest ways of looking at user interactions with information collections and was an interesting conference starter. John Willinsky of the University of British Columbia raised the question of what constitutes publishing in the digital age. His positions are well established in his "case for open access to research and scholarship" and he addresses the topic from a number of perspectives. These include technical developments that make possible the many forms of publishing that have recently emerged, the epistemological implications of multiple levels of access to information, economic issues related to publishing and research access and others.

Each day started with a fine breakfast buffet that allowed informal gatherings and conversations about ideas raised in sessions and plans for future collaborations. The tall, bright atrium outside the meeting area invited early arrivals. Interactions among people with a variety of backgrounds and interests remains a strong point of JCDL and this conference continued that theme with good support for casual mixing. Cost prohibited wireless network connectivity. While that was a source of complaint, it also released attendees from their e-mail and encouraged more attention to what was happening locally. Opinions vary about whether the advantages or disadvantages won out.

Wednesday's sessions were capped by the traditional minute madness, with some lively competition for the best attention-getting tagline to bring visitors to the posters and demonstrations. Plenty of food and drink as well as the voting for best poster and demonstration kept attendees wandering about the session room and led to lively discussions.

Conference sessions and ad hoc meetings are complemented at JCDL by scheduled meetings of related activities, including the IEEE Technical Committee on Digital Libraries. The IEEE-TCDL Bulletin has benefited from the able editorship of Bonnie Wilson since its creation. She is stepping down from that post in October and deserves recognition for her services. Lisa Spiro, Ph.D., Director, Digital Media Center and ETRAC, Rice University, will take over the helm as Editor of the Bulletin later this year. The IEEE TCDL Bulletin has served as the publication venue for student papers from the ECDL doctoral consortium and for poster and demonstrations from the JCDL conferences, as well as for other special issue topics. Watch for the Bulletin and other TCDL activities at <>.

The conference closed with a positive balance from the chair, Edie Rasmussen, followed by a motivating presentation of the next JCDL chair, Ronald Larsen. He is supported by Program co-chairs Andreas Paepcke, José Borbinha, and Mor Naaman in organizing JCDL 2008 – Bridging Culture, Bridging Technology – around the many physical bridges of Pittsburg Pennsylvania. The conference web site at <> provides full information about submission dates, the conference venue, and conference plans. The conference will convene at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburg and meet June 15 - 20, 2008.

The activities at JCDL concluded on Saturday, June 23, with three additional workshops. Subjects included Digital Library Foundations, Web Archiving and Digital Preservation and Contextualized Attention Metadata.


JCDL 2007 was sponsored by the ACM and Special Interest Groups on Information Retrieval (SIGIR) and the Web (SIGWeb), the IEEE and its Technical Committee on Digital Libraries (TCDL) and Thomson Publishing. The conference was held in cooperation with The American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI).

Copyright © 2007 Lillian Cassel and José Borbinha

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