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Report from UKSG’s 33rd Conference and Exhibition

Reported by Rebecca Lenzini, Editorial Board Member, TCR rlenzini@earthlink.net

UKSG’s 33rd Conference and Exhibition took place April 12-14, 2010 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. The event was very well attended with 820 delegates, a record high for the organization and a 10% improvement over the 2009 figure. The conference welcomed attendees from 29 countries (5 continents) as well as 70 exhibitors and 24 sponsors. John Merriman, formerly of Blackwell’s and the originator of UKSG, was honored at the start of the conference. He reminded the audience that Robert Maxwell was the guest speaker for the 1st conference in 1975 which was attended by 69 individuals. UKSG remains true to its goal, according to Merriman, who said the notion was to keep all partners in the information and serials chain as equals — no separate badges, no separate status.

As part of Plenary Session 1, Richard Wallis of Talis in his talk on “Technology and Change” reminded us that calculators in 1973 cost the equivalent of a Kindle or iPad now. Wallis advocates re-orienting the university around the student, pointing out that users start at Google and want to get to answers as quickly as possible with as few barriers as possible, where barriers include introductory screens. He noted that search services are powered by metadata and that library metadata is not “in sync” with the larger world of information. My favorite quote from this presentation: “They won’t come just because you build it.”

Next up in the session was Adam Bly, in a true “new age” paper on the topic of “Re-architecting Science: A Vision for STM in the 21st Century;” “new age” since he was presenting his slides remotely from his New York office and advised us to follow along on twitter. In order to meet the primary needs of researchers, Bly noted that science is increasingly international and data driven. He pointed to the multidisciplinary nature of information use and noted that the research community is frustrated by the current ITdriven world, preferring a “purpose driven and purpose built” environment. He advocates “re-booting” our current approach to information and the web around a digital core with a free flow of information based on standards and interoperability aimed at creating knowledge from information, all of which allows “conversations” that feed back to Open Access journals.

The final speaker of the opening session was Conrad Wolfram of Wolfram Alpha whose approach injects human expertise on top of a mathematical foundation to create “linguistic processing” and provide answers, not just information. He noted that the Wolfram Alpha API is available for adoption to eBooks and other publication formats and welcomed the audience to give the search engine and approach a try.

This brief summary is just the start. To read more about the many other fascinating UKSG sessions, be sure to logon to http://liveserials.blogspot.com/2010_04_01_archive.html.

And mark your calendars for next year’s conference which will be held at Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK, from April 4-6, 2011 http://www.uksg.org/events/annualconference.

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