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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2004

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Conference Reports

World Library and Information Congress: 69th IFLA Conference

August 1-9, 2003

Ray Schwartz
ILL/Serials/Database Librarian
New Jersey Institute of Technology

The World Library and Information Congress: 69th International Federation of Library Associations General Conference and Council met in Berlin, Germany in August of 2003. Despite the unusually hot weather, more than 4500 participants from 133 countries attended the conference. The theme of the conference was Access Point Library: Media - Information -Culture. The Standing Committee of Science and Technology Libraries had organized an open session and a study tour for the conference.

On August 5th, the Science and Technology Libraries Section together with the Health and Biosciences Libraries Section organized the open session Bioinformatics: an evolution of two decades. The speakers were Dr. Heiko Liesegang ( of the Goettingen Genomics Laboratory, Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany; Dr. Sebastian Goeser, ( Senior Software Engineer of IBM Germany Development Ltd., Stuttgart, Germany; and, Martin Boemeke ( of the German National Library of Science and Technology / University of Hannover Library, Hannover, Germany.

Dr. Liesegang's presentation Bioinformatics: Data Quality and the Problem of Annotations discussed the methods of finding new genes and their associated problems of data quality. He explained that the more accurate method "experimental characterization" was the slower process of finding new genes. Whereas the commonly used method of genome annotation by comparison--comparing two sets of sequence data to determine similar structure and thus similar function--has greatly increased the number of new genes discovered from a few per year to thousands per month. With the increased discovery of new genes, the incidence of errors increases in the genomic databases. The speaker went on to explain the process of "genome annotation by comparison" and how errors can accumulate in the databases through misspellings, and, over/under sequencing. When an error is added to the database, then the number of errors increases with each new genome entry. In the end, annotation results must be checked by both automated and manual examination in order to maintain data quality.

Dr. Goeser's presentation Text Mining and Bioinformatics: New Insights through Literature Navigation and Related Technologies reviewed a number of information technologies referred to as text mining to manage knowledge and information in the life sciences. He described the challenges for information management in the life sciences as 1) the integration of diverse and rapidly growing data sources simultaneously with information management applications; 2) the integration of different functional areas within and across research and development organizations; 3) knowledge management--which includes sharing, information overload, and extreme capturing requirements; and 4) robust, centralized data and storage management. Dr. Goeser sees text mining as a way to leverage domain expertise, exceed the text search paradigm, and break the 'effectiveness' barrier. Among the areas text-mining applications can address are: 1) information extraction, 2) automatic categorization, 3) summarization, 4) information mining thin clients, and 5) lexical navigation.

The final presentation The Engineering Subject Gateway (ViFaTec) and Biotech: Virtual Developments in Biotechnology by Martin Boemeke, a professional engineer and ViFaTec project member, was about the ViFaTec and how it serves the biotechnology sectors. The ViFaTec went online in April 2000 with the emphasis on supplying users from the engineering fields and other related technical areas with high quality and timely information. The target audience of the gateway includes the academic and industrial sectors, and those in the general public that are interested in sophisticated scientific information. The gateway consists of five modules and is housed at the German National Library of Science and Technology in Hannover. The modules are: 1) The Metasearchengine, which is still in preparation, will offer a search interface to 10 different data sources. Presently, there is a list of 21 databases such as FIZ-Technik and the NASA Technical Report Server. 2) TIBORDER is the web-based document delivery service of the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB). 3) GetInfo is an online full-text service jointly operated by the TIB and the Subject Information Center Karlsruhe (FIZ Karlsruhe). The service currently has access to over 50,000 full-text documents. 4) The Subject Guide consists of technical bibliographic databases, list of books, collections of journals, and important reference books organized into 10 subject areas such as engineering basics and mechanical engineering. And 5) the Specialized Search Engine, where a user can search for services in the field of research within Germany, consists of consulting offers listings, available laboratory space, web sites of engineering associations and so on. Since bioinformatics and biotechnology are interdisciplinary areas, one way the gateway supports them is through subcategories in the Subject Guide. The URL to the gateway is {}. Martin Boemeke's paper is available at {}.

On August 7th, the Science and Technology Libraries Section arranged a study tour of the German Research Center for Earth Sciences ((GFZ) GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam). Our host was Roland Bertelmann (, head of the Library Wissenschaftsparks Albert Einstein. Telegrafenberg, the location for the GFZ, has been the home for research institutes for astronomy and earth sciences since 1870. During the division of Germany, the East German Academy of Sciences was based in Telegrafenberg. After reunification, many of the East German scientific institutes were closed down, however the institutes at Telegrafenberg continued to operate and expand. In 1992, the GFZ was founded as Germany's research center for the earth sciences. Presently, there are four research institutes at the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam--the GFZ, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ((PIK) Potsdam- Instituts für Klimafolgenforschung), the Alfred Wegener Institute Foundation for Polar and Marine Research ((AWI) Stiftung Alfred- Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung Forschungsstelle Potsdam), and the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam ((AIP) Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam). The Library Wissenschaftsparks Albert Einstein is the only institution at Telegrafenberg that serves all the research institutes. The Library's collections consists of 100,000 books, 40,000 maps, 400 print journal subscriptions, 900 electronic journal subscriptions, and a number of electronic resources. The materials budget is 200,000 Euros per year and they have five staff, two apprentices, and two branch libraries. Our host went on to describe a number of the projects of the GFZ, such as the satellite CHAMPS (Challenging Mini-satellite Payload) which measures the earth's gravitational and magnetic fields, and atmosphere. Our next presenter was Ronald Conze (, who is responsible for the data and information management of the International Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP). His presentation detailed the development of the program and all its projects and the challenges in managing the data and information collected.

For further information concerning the IFLA Standing Committee on Science and Technology Libraries' activities, visit {}.

Upcoming IFLA conferences will be held in Buenos Aires (2004), Oslo (2005), and Seoul (2006).

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