ERCIM News No.36 - January 1999

8th DELOS Workshop on User Interfaces in Digital Libraries

by Preben Hansen

The 8th DELOS Workshop on User Interfaces in Digital Libraries was held in Stockholm, Sweden, 21-23 October 1998. The DELOS Working Group is an action of the ERCIM Digital Library Initiative. During the workshop, a ‘mini-workshop’ was held, together with participants from the 4th ERCIM User Interfaces for All Workshop, another ERCIM Working Group, that was held from 19-21 October 1998. 21 participants, including guest speakers attended the workshop. Eleven presentations were made during the workshop.

A Digital Library is the integration of several different components and will include a range of content and services, as well as a large and diverse group of users. It is important to develop an understanding of the overall tasks and interactions users are engaged in when entering a Digital Library. We interact constantly with our environment through different communication mechanisms and processes. Information seeking and retrieval in Digital Libraries is but a special case of such a process. Analysis and evaluation of user, systems and interactions are needed to successfully build future Digital Libraries.


The workshop started with a ‘Challenge paper’ (Preben Hansen and Jussi Karlgren, SICS). The paper summarized some important research issues raised 25 years ago related to information retrieval (IR) and user interfaces (UI) and its relevance for the workshop. The authors found that some of the questions raised then were still valid today, such as the characteristics of the user, the task, the information content and medium, the computer and IR techniques and the role of evaluation and feedback in the redesign cycle, among others. However, there has also emerged new research areas such as multimedia content, multimodal interaction, multilingual information and users and distributed systems and collections.

Our guest speaker, Professor Nicholas Belkin, Rutgers University, provided a ‘road-map’ on important issues for Digital Libraries in his paper ‘Understanding and supporting Multiple Information Seeking Behaviours in a Single Interface Framework’. First, Belkin presented a definition of a Digital Library and what functions need to be supported in such a framework. Furthermore, Nick Belkin described his and his group’s work within the third TIPSTER research program. The goal of the project is to identify and classify different information seeking strategies (ISSs), characterize sequential structures of ISSs, identify specific combinations of IR techniques appropriate for different ISSs, and construct and evaluate system which adapts to support different ISSs in the course of a single information seeking episode.

Constantine Stephanidis, ICS-FORTH, our second guest speaker, raised some critical issues for interaction design in digital libraries in the light of HCI and Digital Libraries. Among the main issues and challenges mentioned were diverse user groups, variety in the context of use, and technological proliferation. The author also proposed a way to deal with the design of Digital Libraries containing three phases: Design processes and techniques, Implementation, and Evaluation.

The paper presentations covered areas such as multilingual aspects (Nuño Miguel Antunes Freire, INESC and Aarno Jarno Tenni, VTT); evaluation of information systems (Silvana Mangiaracina, CNR and Demosthenes Akoumianakis, ICS-FORTH); agent-based system of semantical information retrieval (Kuldar Taveter, VTT); visualization (Francesca Costabile, Bari University); implementation of user interfaces (Donatella Castelli, CNR and László Kovács, SZTAKI) and finally, genres and clustering (by Johan Dewe and Niklas Wolkert, Netsolutions AB).

Discussion summary

Some important issues discussed during the workshop:

The papers from the workshop will be published as workshop proceedings at

Please contact:

Preben Hansen - SICS
Tel: +46 8 633 1554

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