by M.Felisa Verdejo
The tenth European Conference on Digital Libraries was held at the University of Alicante, Spain from September 17 to 22, 2006. The event was jointly organised by the University of Alicante, Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library and Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED).
The theme of this year's conference was Towards 'The European Digital Library'. The aim was to emphasise the contribution made by the European Digital Library research community (and its liaisons with the international research community in general) to the current efforts of the European Commission in this direction. Speakers were invited to elaborate on this topic and the conference opened with a commemorative talk by Dr. Yannis Ioannidis looking back on the history of the ECDL. A CD-ROM is now available to the DL research community containing the proceedings of all the ECDL Conferences.
Although strongly international, the conference retained a distinctive European flavour. The 459 participants came from 45 countries: 66 percent were from Europe (26 countries), 23 percent from America, nine percent from Australasia and two percent from Africa.
The event followed the usual format of ECDL conferences consisting of a main conference, a doctoral consortium workshop, five tutorials, posters and demonstrations (this year there were 33), six workshops and the Cross-Language Evaluation Forum (CLEF), a major event on its own, with 140 participants.
The three guest speakers were Horst Foster, Director of Content in the Information Society and Media DG of the European Commission, who presented the Digital Libraries Initiative, one of the flagships of the i2010 strategic framework; Ricardo Baeza, director of Yahoo! Research Barcelona (Spain) and Yahoo! Research Latin America in Santiago (Chile), who focused on the potential of exploiting users' behaviour in search processes and Michael Keller, librarian at Ida M. Green University, Stanford, USA, who presented Google Book Search, a book-indexing project, and its benefits to readers and publishers, as well as a catalyst for other initiatives such as the European Digital Library.
A panel discussing the topic Sustained Digital Libraries for Universal Use was chaired by Ching-chih Chen of Simmons College, Boston, USA and José Borbinha of INESC-ID, Portugal. They were joined by Abdelaziz Abid from UNESCO, Vittore Casarosa from DELOS and Eric van der Meulen from the European Library.
Some 36 papers were selected for the main conference, an acceptance rate of 28 percent. Papers were organised in 12 sessions around the topics: Architecture (I, II), Preservation, Retrieval, Applications, Methodology, Metadata, Evaluation, User Studies, Modelling, Audiovisual content and Languages Technologies. The event was broadcast live on the Internet.
The doctoral consortium was scheduled the day before the conference at the same time as the tutorials in order to allow both seniors and students to fully participate in the conference itself. Two awards were made. The Best Paper Award, supported by the IEEE Technical committee on Digital Libraries (IEEE-TCDL) went to Carl Lagoze, Dean Krafft, Tim Cornwell, Dean Eckstrom, Susan Jesuroga and Chris Wilper for the paper Representing Contextualised Information in the NSDL, and the Best Young Researcher Award, (http://nlp.uned.es/%7Ejulio/ECDL-best-paper/552.pdf) supported by DELOS Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries, went to Daniel Coelho Gomes, Universidade de Lisboa, as coauthor of the paper Design and Selection Criteria for a National Web Archive.
As well as the scientific programme, ECDL 2006 included a full range of social activities allowing participants to get together, and enjoy the local cultural heritage. On Sunday evening there was a boat trip around Alicante bay and the following evening there was a reception at the Santa Barbara fortress. The fortress lies on top of mount Benacantil and has splendid views over the harbour, the city and the coastline. Built by the Muslims in the ninth century, it was redesigned around 1580. On Tuesday evening there was a visit to the archaeological museum. This museum, which was European Museum of the Year in 2004, tells the history of the Mediterranean using installations, audiovisual projections and computer graphics. The conference closed with a dinner and jazz band. Delegates received a USB memory stick with photos of the conference events and further information about participants, sponsors and cooperating institutions.
This tenth conference highlighted research achievements in the field and provided a significant opportunity to demonstrate how the ECDL community is contributing towards the European Digital Library. We are looking forward to the next ECDL Conference from September 16 to 21, 2007, in Budapest. For more information see http://www.ecdl2007.org/
The proceedings of ECDL 2006: Julio Gonzalo, Costantino Thanos, M.Felisa Verdejo , Rafael Carrasco (Eds). Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol 4172, 569 p.
The organisers of ECDL 2006 appreciate the financial support given to the Conference by Universidad de Alicante, Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Grupo Santander, Generalitat Valenciana, Patronato de turismo de Alicante and Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED).