Although ICADL 2001 had a distinctly Asian perspective, it was a digital library conference of global proportions. More than 600 attendees from 18 countries across four continents spent a packed three days. The conference offerings included: 6 tutorials, 21 invited talks by international experts, 27 refereed paper presentations, 2 plenary sessions, a fascinating panel discussion ("Should Digital Libraries be Open?"), and a session with 24 posters. Delegates also could browse three exhibition halls filled with vendor demonstrations from 18 companies, and a display of 12 active DL initiatives in India. The conference provided ample opportunities for informal socializing including many excellent meals as well as an entertaining cultural evening featuring traditional Indian dances.
The ICADL conference series was established four years ago to encourage and support digital library development in Asia. This year's conference highlighted Asian achievements and demonstrated the high level of interest in developing more DL initiatives throughout the Asian region to promote education, support research efforts in many disciplines, increase information accessibility for citizens, and preserve cultural treasures.
The ICADL conference focused on three overall themes.
The first theme was centered on the technical issues associated with DL development and implementation. Speakers discussed general technical issues associated with creating DLs and introduced conference attendees to emerging technologies in the areas of information retrieval, architecture for interoperability, and user-centered systems. Additionally, 9 vendors showcased new products in extended demonstrations.
The second theme revolved around the role of digital libraries in addressing social issues. Several sessions focused on specific topics such as medical applications of DLs, e-governance and the promise of electronic theses and dissertations in promoting Asian scholarship worldwide. Other key areas were identified as multi-lingual access, and utilizing multimedia capabilities to address the special needs of illiterate people, particularly to capture the oral traditions of indigenous cultures.
The third theme centered on the Asian digital library experience. These sessions directly addressed issues of particular interest to countries in the region, especially those that have developing economies. Presenters showed how active DL initiatives have begun to form answers to these special needs and how the DL's role may be extended through the utilization of other technologies. These challenges include creating content, improving infrastructure, increasing connectivity, protecting intellectual property rights, developing pricing models and encouraging an environment for a knowledge sharing culture.
The first day of the conference began with six two-hour tutorials presented in two tracks, and although scheduling allowed delegates to attend only three sessions, they received a bound volume featuring materials from all six tutorials. The first track focused on taking the steps to establish a digital library. Sessions discussed applications of DLs (Edward A. Fox), how to build DLs with open source software (Ian Witten), and user interfaces and information seeking (Gary Marchionini). The second track featured specialized DL topics such as employing a knowledge management system (Hsinchun Chen), personalization and filtering on the web (Mike Shepherd), and digital information services in enterprises (T.B. Rajashekar).
All the invited talks and paper presentations were scheduled for the second and third days of the conference and were organized in three concurrent tracks. The vendor exhibition and poster sessions also took place those two days. Each of these sessions provided ample time for questions and discussions, some of which were based on delegates' study of the full proceedings of papers.
Bangalore was an excellent host city and a fitting locale for the conference. Historically known as India's "Garden City," Bangalore has more recently become recognized as "India's Technology Capital" because it is the center of the nation's thriving information technology industry. ICADL 2001, for the first time, brought together large numbers of conference participants from India's library and information science community, representing a diverse range of information technology professionals. As noted by the media who attended the conference, ICADL 2001 provided an opportunity to launch a DL industry in the region.
ICADL 2001 was organized by the University of Mysore and the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore along with their partners: the Government of India's NISSAT, DSIR and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; the Government of Karnataka's Department of Information Technology; and UNESCO. The Chair of the Program Organizing Committee was Shalini R. Urs. ICADL 2002 will be held in Singapore with Schubert Foo serving as Chair of the Organizing Committee.
Copyright 2002 Suzie Allard and Edward A. Fox