Libraries in the Digital Age. (Report from the Field)

By Levine, Emil | Information Today, July-August 2003 | Go to article overview

Libraries in the Digital Age. (Report from the Field)

Levine, Emil, Information Today

"Changing Information Retrieval Paradigms in the Digital Library" and "Changes in Library Structures and Functions" were the themes at the Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) 2003 conference, held May 26-27 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and May 28-29 in Mljet, Croatia. Within these themes, speakers highlighted browsing, searching, metadata, and open source library software. The European Chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASISTEC) held a pre-conference meeting and provided support for the event.

The conference drew 141 participants from 18 countries (97 were from Croatia alone), including 26 students. The format featured seven workshops, three tutorials, 21 papers, 26 posters, two panels, four demonstrations, and a post-conference workshop.

Diana Simic, assistant to the Croatian Minister of Science and Technology, gave opening remarks and greeted participants. The event's co-directors, Tatjana Aparac-Jelusic, from Croatia's University of Osijek, and Tefko Saracevic, from Rutgers University, conducted the opening session.

Browsing, Searching, Metadata

Colleen Cool, from New York's Queens College, and Rutgers' Nicholas Belkin presented a tutorial called "Interface Design for Web Information Retrieval." They contrasted browsing and searching, saying that these functions are "strictly separated." They noted that for many, IR systems are "black box" mechanisms (users don't know how they work). Cool and Belkin's research shows that users need to be taught how search engines and other IR systems function. Their results from the TREC 2002 project suggest searchers prefer an interface that clusters lists. The researchers believe that new Web IR interface design will include better integration of searching and browsing.

The second tutorial, "The Challenge of Finding Information in Long Documents," by David J. Harper of The Robert Gordon University, expanded on the Cool/Belkin presentation. Harper provided details of his research with ProfileSkim, a system he developed that supports specific information retrieval within long documents (20 to 50 or more pages). ProfileSkim divides the documents into "chunks." Shading within these chunks guides searchers to the most relevant portions of the document.

In her presentation "Enhanced Web Publishing: Towards Integration of Search and Browsing," Natasa Milic-Frayling of Microsoft Research, Ltd. discussed browsing, searching, and Web interface design. She detailed several Microsoft research products, including MIDAS (Meta-Information Delivery and Annotation Services), which generates a "table of contents" on a Web site's home page.

Sanda Erdelez, from the University of Missouri--Columbia, presented "The Impact of Change in Web-Based IR Systems on Users' Experience." She noted that IR system changes include search capabilities, content, and interfaces. Because users change as they become more experienced, their information needs change as well. This affects their relevancy judgments. Environmental changes include system designs and improvements in connectivity, mobility, transportability, and interoperability. Citing case studies, Erdelez noted that the redesign of the Liz Claiborne site resulted in increased sales. The successful design combined searching and browsing.

Elizabeth D. Liddy of Syracuse University discussed research at the Center for Natural Language Processing in "Metadata: Generation and Evaluation." The project automatically produces metadata to fulfill Dublin Core 15 and GEM 8 element sets. The target data were junior and high school lesson plans. A comparison of machine- and human-created data showed that although the differences were not statistically significant, manual creation is still better.

Liddy also talked about the capture of eye-scan paths on screens to determine which metadata elements users spend the most time viewing. This project's research goals are to improve access through more complete metadata, eliminate the "metadata backlog," and assist in computer interface design through a better understanding of users' browsing and searching behaviors. …

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