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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
July/August 2005

Volume 11 Number 7/8

ISSN 1082-9873

Report on the Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries - Cyberinfrastructure for Research and Education

June 7 - 11, 2005, Denver, Colorado


Tamara Sumner
Department of Computer Science and Institute of Cognitive Science
University of Colorado at Boulder

Red Line


The 5th ACM/IEEE Conference on Digital Libraries took place this year in Denver, Colorado, on June 7 - 11. While the air may have been thin in the Mile High City, the ideas and discussions were rich and lively. The tone and tenor for the conference were set early by Conference Chair Dr. Mary Marlino, Director of the Digital Library for Earth System Education Program Center, during the opening session, and by the first keynote speaker, Dr. Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services from the Library of Congress. Both speakers urged the research community to develop and embrace ambitious and expansive visions for the digital library field as a whole, and to not lose sight of the service element underpinning our discipline, i.e., the important roles of digital libraries in democratizing knowledge creation and as social and cultural institutions.

Marlino drew parallels with the Lewis and Clark expedition, which was also the subject of a special exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the venue for the conference banquet. Reading from Undaunted Courage (Ambrose 1996), she noted how in 1801 nothing – no letter, food, barrel, or idea – moved faster than the speed of a horse, and how many learned people of the era did not think things would change very significantly in the future. Marlino cautioned the digital library community to not grow complacent and to realize that advances such as the web and Google are barely scratching the surface of our potential contributions to research, commerce, and society.

Dr. Marcum introduced a far-reaching and ambitious vision, urging the digital library community to never lose sight of the larger possibility for creating a "universal digital library" that improves access to, and understanding of, the breadth and depth of human culture and experience. Marcum listed four challenges that must be overcome for the vision of a universal digital library to be realized: copyright laws, long-term preservation, integration across libraries and collections, and funding (Marcum). The second keynote speaker, Dr. Bud Tribble, Vice President of Software Technology at Apple Computer, also discussed the challenges facing the creation of a universal digital library, and ubiquitous digital library-like services, as seen from a commercial perspective. Tribble noted that preservation and copyright were significant barriers to universal and long-term access, and he succinctly expressed that what was needed in terms of copyright change was "a legal framework for sharing." Tribble added that support for open standards was an important value underpinning the technical aspects of a universal digital library, and he urged the JCDL community to continue to play a leadership role in these efforts.

In addition to discussions of universal libraries, copyright law, and preservation (including the panel "Is Digital Preservation an Oxymoron?" Moderator: Liz Bishoff, Panelists: Martin Halbert, Robert Horton, and Taylor Surface), the conference technical program formally emphasized three intellectual tracks, which provided rich grounds for discussion and debate:

  • Digital Libraries and Cyberinfrastructure
  • Users and Interaction
  • Tools and Techniques

Digital Libraries and Cyberinfrastructure Track

Sessions in this track highlighted the rich variety of roles that digital libraries continue to play in transforming research and education within the sciences and the humanities. Recker et al. discussed the enduring challenges with transforming educational practice based on their research with the Instructional Architect tool developed for NSDL. In a presentation that illustrated the transformative potential of cyberinfrastructure in the sciences, Blake described the use of natural language processing techniques to conduct automatic meta-analyses over medical literature. Humanities and cultural cyberinfrastructure projects and applications were also well represented in this track. For instance, Agosti et al. described an innovative framework and tool for supporting the annotation of illuminated manuscripts. Science, the humanities, and public education were on the table during the panel discussion on "Cyberinfrastructure as Computation vs. Support for Meaningful Interaction" (Moderator: Liz Bishoff; Panelists: Clifford Lynch, Steve Wheatley, Reagan Moore). Moore talked about data management and data preservation issues in the sciences while Wheatley followed with an overview of cyberinfrastructure initiatives in the humanities. Wheatley discussed how discipline-wide initiatives such as cyberinfrastructure were difficult to develop and enact in the humanities because there is no equivalent of the National Science Foundation to provide institutional and funding focus. Lynch identified common issues and provided a framework for audience discussion. He began by noting that it is easy to get turned around in discussions of cyberinfrastructure and end up having the technology tail wagging science and humanities scholars and researchers. Lynch pointed out that the European term eScience better highlights how practice and transforming scholarship should be the driving forces behind technical innovations in this area. He also reflected that one of the unique capabilities of digital libraries in this arena is to develop innovative forms of computing capabilities that perform interesting analyses over large text corpora.

Users and Interaction Track

Sessions in this second track focused on understanding user needs, how people work and learn with digital library technologies, and how innovative user interfaces and interaction mechanisms can help people to better use and comprehend digital library resources, collections, and services. For instance, Adams and Blandford conducted five studies examining how digital library users' needs change over time; they documented and discussed three stages to the overall information journey: initiation, facilitation, and interpretation. Christel and Conescu presented the results of a study confirming and explaining why users prefer to search video archives using textual search capabilities over video-only search strategies. In another technical article, Kaplan and Chisik presented a compelling argument for moving beyond a 'work practice' orientation in digital library design to consider the creation of dynamic and social reading environments. Their article and presentation showed how their prototype digital book, Alph, supports children as they interact socially, through collaboratively making and sharing annotations.

Tools and Techniques Track

Sessions in the third track focused on new architectures and frameworks for building digital libraries, as well as discussed emerging algorithms and techniques for improving information retrieval, automatic approaches for resource and collection characterization, and applications of machine learning to a rich variety of digital library problems. Gordon Paynter received the Vannevar Bush Best Paper Award for his work on "Developing Practical Automatic Metadata Assignment and Evaluation Tools for Internet Resources" (Paynter). In general, research into using machine learning and natural language processing techniques to automate and support resource tagging, collections development, and collections maintenance was a major theme within the tools and techniques track. In addition to the work of Paynter, several other awards nominees reported on innovative work in this area (see Krowne and Halbert; Zong et al.; Zhuang et al.). Collection development was also the topic of work by Buchanan et al., who proposed a new framework for building digital collections based on the popular Greenstone open source software ( Kustanowitz and Shneiderman tackled the issue of interacting with potentially large photo libraries and described a new interactive layout technique for presenting large collections of images in a concise and compact display.

In addition to presentations in these three tracks, the technical program featured the ever-popular Minute Madness and a poster reception, held on the evening of June 8. During the Minute Madness, 41 poster and 16 demonstration presenters each had 60 seconds to 'pitch' their work to the eager audience, and it became clear early on that comedians, tricksters, and the like are well-represented in the JCDL community. It will be hard in future years to top Michael Nelson's delivery in song regarding his research with arXiv and harvesting (Nelson and Bollen)! The poster reception included a buffet dinner and a best poster award, and Dr. Tribble, courtesy of Apple Computer, awarded iPODs to the winner and two runners up in the Best Poster contest. Mirroring trends in the tools and techniques track, the best poster award went to Downie et al. for their work to create a prototyping and evaluation environment to support research into machine learning techniques for music information retrieval.

The talents of members of the JCDL community were further in evidence at the Conference banquet, held in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, on June 9, when the Dave Fulker Band (NSDL and DLESE) was joined, first by Ian Witten (University of Waikato), and later by Naomi Dushay (NSDL, Cornell), to serenade attendees strolling the different floors of the museum and admiring the sweeping views of the Rockies from museum windows.

Unsurprisingly, the recently announced plan by Google to digitize collections from several major research universities provided the topic for numerous planned and unplanned debates about the future of research libraries and the changing role of digital libraries. These topics were taken up with vigor by the panel "Tick, Tock – Google as Library" (Moderator: Jim Williams, Panelists: Richard Luce, Clifford Lynch, and Barbara Quint). Quint talked the audience through potentially lucrative business models building on Google Print, arguing that Google's half billion dollar investment could end up looking like "chump change" relative to the potential return on that investment. Lynch commented that there was already one positive outcome of the Google Print announcement: referring to recent announcements by France and other European countries to embark on their own counter-digitization projects, he noted that he never thought he would live to see the day when countries were competing to digitize their cultural resources!

In his closing keynote address, Dr. Hector Garcia-Molina pointed out that he was surprised, honored, and gratified to be asked to speak at the 5th ACM/IEEE Joint conference, particularly because he was initially skeptical that the two organization's separate conferences would ever successfully merge. He kicked off his address with a picture of the now-infamous "reasons why the two conferences will never merge" slide, which in 2001 was rendered in cake form so that he had to "eat his words" at the first Joint Conference on Digital Libraries held in Roanoke, Virginia (Borgman and Hessel 2001). Garcia-Molina reviewed 10 years of accomplishments of the NSF Digital Libraries Initiatives program, from an unabashedly Stanford perspective, including highlights of BackRub, SDLIP, and the Power Browser projects (Garcia-Molina). He reminded us why Google and other companies are becoming increasingly interested in services and technologies associated with digital libraries: these companies are "not run by a bunch of MBAs, but are founded by our former graduate students, many of whom are doing what they are doing because they were trained within the digital library research community." He reminded us that graduate students are the greatest legacy of our research.

As shown in Table 1, the JCDL community continues to flourish, with conference submissions and international participation being at an all-time high, and conference attendance holding steady for the past few years. The JCDL 2005 Organizing Committee was particularly pleased with the strong participation of international attendees, library practitioners, and graduate students, in both the newly instituted doctoral consortium and the conference student volunteer cohort. The inaugural Doctoral Consortium, organized by Dr. Geneva Henry and Dr. Rudi Schmiede, was very successful, with seven students receiving detailed feedback on their research from five faculty. Participating students also received iPODS and were treated to dinner, with wine tasting, at the Kevin Taylor Restaurant in Denver, thanks to the generosity of Rice University, one of the Doctoral Consortium's sponsors. All doctoral students conducting research in the broad area of digital libraries are encouraged to submit their research for presentation at future Doctoral Consortiums.

Table 1. Overview of JCDL 2005 conference program, attendance and reviewing

Technical Program
Full Technical Articles 33 (out of 105 submissions)
Short Technical Articles 26 (out of 80 submissions)
Posters 41
Demonstrations 16
Panels 3
Tutorials 6
Workshops 4
Doctoral Consotrium 7 Students
5 Faculty
Attendance and Reviewing
Overall Attendees 350
International Attendees 55 (from 20 countries)
Technical Program Reviewers 67 Program Committee
35 Additional Reviewers
Reviews Received 802 (830 requested; response rate 97%)

Conference evaluation forms offered several suggestions for future JCDLs, including holding the conference registration costs down, extending the short article limit to four pages, soliciting the participation of more people from industry (with Google being a popular choice), and encouraging more practical demonstrations and reports from operational projects and libraries. The full text of all articles from JCDL 2005 and preceding conferences are available in the ACM Digital Library, including one-page abstracts for the posters, demonstrations, panels, tutorials, and workshops. With the authors' permission, slides and text of presentations from this year's conference have been posted on the website (

The JCDL conference series continues to provide an important forum for research in digital libraries. Given the buzz at this year's conference, generated by recent commercial initiatives, it is hard to predict what the future will hold for digital libraries, but JCDL 2006, which will be held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is sure to be exciting and well worth attending.


The JCDL 2005 Organizing Committee thanks the Program Committee, Conference Sponsors and Corporate Supporters. The author thanks Holly Devaul, Sarah Giersch, Frank Shipman, and Mary Marlino for feedback and comments on an earlier draft of this report.


Adams, A. & A. Blandford (2005), "Digital Libraries Support for the User's 'Information Journey'," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 160 - 169. Winner of the Best International Paper Award.

Agosti, M., Ferro, N. & N. Orio (2005), "Annotating Illuminated Manuscripts: An Effective Tool for Research and Education," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 160 - 169. Nominated for the Best International Paper Award.

Ambrose, S. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the opening of the American West (Lewis & Clark Expedition), Simon & Schuster, 1996, 512 pages.

Blake, C. (2005), "Information Synthesis: A New Approach to Explore Secondary Information in Scientific Literature," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 56 - 64.

Buchanan, G., Bainbridge, D., Don, K. & I. Witten (2005), "A New Framework for Building Digital Library Collections," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 23 - 31. Nominated for the Best Student Paper Award.

Christel, M. & R. Conescu (2005), "Addressing the Challenge of Visual Information Access from Digital Image and Video Libraries," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 69 - 78. Nominated for the Vannevar Bush Best Paper Award.

Downie, J. S., Ehmann, A. F., & X. Hu (2005), "Music-to-Knowledge (M2K): A Prototyping and Evaluation Environment for Music Digital Library Research," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), page 376.

Garcia-Molina, H. (2005), "Digital Libraries Initiatives: What I Learned (and Didn't) in 10 Years", Keynote Speech delivered June 10th, Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), Slides available at <>.

Kaplan, N & Y. Chisik (2005), "In the Company of Readers: The Digital Library Book as 'Practiced Place'," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 235 - 243. Nominated for the Vannevar Bush Best Paper Award.

Krowne, A. & M. Halbert (2005), "An Initial Evaluation of Automated Organization for Digital Library Browsing," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 246 - 255. Nominated for the Vannevar Bush Best Paper Award.

Kustanowitz, J. & B. Shneiderman (2005), "Meaningful Presentations of Photo Libraries: Rationale and Applications of Bi-Level Radial Quantum Layouts," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 188 - 196. Winner of the Best Student Paper Award.

Marcum, D. (2005), "The Sum of the Parts: Turning Digital Library Initiatives into a Great Whole", Keynote Speech delivered June 8th, Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), Slides available at <>.

Nelson, M. & J. Bollen (2005), "If You Harvest, Will They Come?," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), page 393.

Paynter, G. (2005), "Developing Practical Automatic Metadata Assignment and Evaluation Tools for Internet Resources," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 291 - 300. Winner of the Vannevar Bush Best Paper Award.

Recker, M., Dorward, J., Dawson, D., Halioris, S., Liu, Y., Mao, X., Palmer, B. & J. Park (2005), "You Can Lead a Horse to Water: Teacher Development and Use of Digital Library Resources," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 1 - 8. Nominated for the Vannevar Bush Best Paper Award.

Zhuang, Z., Wagle, R. & C. L. Giles (2005), "What's There and What's Not? Focused Crawling for Missing Documents in Digital Libraries," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 301 - 310. Nominated for the Best Student Paper Award.

Zong, W., Wu, D., Sun, A., Lim, E. P. & D. Goh (2005), "On Assigning Place Names to Geography Related Web Pages," Fifth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2005), June 7 - 11 (Denver, CO), pages 354 - 362. Nominated for the Best International Paper Award and for Best Student Paper Award.

Reports from Previous JCDL Conferences

Foo, S. "Report on the Fourth ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries", D-Lib Magazine 10(7/8), 2004. Available at <doi:10.1045/july2004-foo>.

Nelson, M. "Report on the Third ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries", D-Lib Magazine 9(7/8), 2003. Available at <doi:10.1045/july2003-nelson>.

Rasmussen, E. M. "Report on the Second Joint Conference on Digital Libraries", D-Lib Magazine 8(9), 2002. Available at <doi:10.1045/september2002-rasmussen>.

Borgman, C. L., & H. Hessel, "Report on the First Joint Conference on Digital Libraries", D-Lib Magazine 7(10), 2001. Available at <doi:10.1045/october2001-borgman>.


Copyright © 2005 Tamara Sumner

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