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I am doing the opening keynote at ECDL 2004. Although I have been a (somewhat inactive) member of the program committee for previous JCDL and ECDL conferences I have never actually attended one. My sense of looking at the proceedings is that there is little that is cumulative or which has had a serious impact on practice. This may have something to do with Herbert’s argument that there is no Digital Library theory. This is similar, in as much as I follow it, to an argument I have made over the years that we lack an architectural perspective which encapsulates current understanding of significant functional components and communication between them. We never get past the first date because each discussion involves agreement of terms, establishing shared understanding and so on. Anyway, I may use ECDL to talk about this in the context of the relationship between libraries and ‘digital library research’, and the apparent, to me anyway, lack of interaction between the two.
Digital library research brings together a number of disciplines and practitioner communities, creating a stimulating environment for debate and an opportunity for establishing collaboration. ECDL provides a forum for the exchange of ideas between scientific disciplines and fosters joint initiatives with application communities. Involvement of researchers and practitioners from computing and information science disciplines is well established at ECDL. Increasingly these disciplines are engaging in discussion and co-operation with other groups concerned with knowledge management. ECDL 2004 encourages involvement from a wide range of disciplines and looks forward to continuing contributions from usability experts, educationalists, developers of eLearning systems, and from those working within the eScience and GRID communities. The continued success of ECDL rests on the exchange of ideas and experience between these groups. [ECDL 2004]