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University of Oxford
Director of University Library Services and Bodley's Librarian

Thinking Beyond Digital Libraries - Designing the Information Strategy for the Next Decade: Speech of welcome at the 7th International Bielefeld Conference


Guten Tag, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollege: und herzlich Willkommen in Bielefeld! Es gibt mir viel Vergnügen so viele Leute hier in Bielefeld heute zu sehen und zu treffen. Und ich freue mich sehr mit Ihnen an diese internationale Konferenz in Deutschland zu sein.

Good afternoon, my dear colleagues, and a warm welcome to Bielefeld! I'm delighted to see and meet so many of you here today. And I'm very pleased to be here with you at this international conference in Germany. I'm very glad that you have been able to join us here as we look beyond our digital libraries and as we think about designing an information strategy for the next decade

This is a very important issue for all of us, as we seek, in our various capacities, and in our own local and national efforts, to design our individual and collective support for scholarly research, through the innovative use of new strategies and tools in the application of information and communication technologies to our work.

There are many challenges ahead of us in the next decade as we seek and plan the best ways forward for the many communities that we all serve; and I'm confident that the next two-and-a-half days we spend together here will be materially helpful to us all in sharing our thinking on such important issues.

And I believe that sharing our thinking, and our expertise, not just here in Bielefeld over the next few days, but also on an on-going basis, will be the key to whatever successes we may enjoy in the coming years. We all face the same challenges; we all serve the same kinds of communities; we all have the same tools and technologies at our disposal; and we all have the same incentives to succeed. We owe it to ourselves, therefore, and to those whom we serve, to recognise that our local issues are global issues, and that the solutions which we seek are international solutions. The information world in which we all work, and play our part, is an increasingly 'global village'; and that is why international conferences such as this one in Bielefeld have such an important role to play in helping to shape our collective future, as we come together from so many parts of the information environment, as we compare notes with each other about our own experience, as we learn from each other about our thinking, about our local and national initiatives, and as we stand aside from our day-to-day professional pressures, to try to see the big picture together, across our national boundaries.

We live in very challenging times. And that is one of the main reasons why I believe that this conference should prove to be so formative and so helpful to us all; and this is also why I have been so pleased to be a member of the Conference committee. The conference programme, as you will see, has been designed in recognition of the fact that the challenges that face us are global, and common to us all. We have speakers from no fewer than seven different countries, as far apart as Australia and the USA. We have senior university officers, professors, librarians, technologists and knowledge management consultants speaking to us; and we have experts from the world of scholarly publishing and from national digital library programmes as well as representatives of international online information utilities and programmes. Your conference committee has tried, and I believe has succeeded, to provide a balanced and representative menu of expert and high-level insights into the many aspects of the main questions that confront us all: how can we ensure that our own local efforts to move beyond the creation of our own digital libraries are harnessed to become effective parts of a collectively designed future strategy for the provision of a seamless and accessible world of online scholarly information? What can we, and should we, be doing to ensure that we all move forward, as far as humanly possible, to a better and more effectively co-ordinated future?

Those, I believe, are the principal questions that confront us today, and in the immediate future. And the conference programme has been designed to break down these important questions into their principal component parts. Our keynote address will consider information strategy as a key success factor for organisations of every kind; our first plenary session will have four presentations about different aspects of information strategy in universities and academic libraries in the UK, in Germany, in Australia, and in Norway; our second session will look at new challenges and services in academic libraries in Germany and the United States; our third session will consider some of the practical and theoretical aspects of open access platforms and institutional e-print repositories in Germany and Holland; our fourth session will cover emerging scholarly communications models, publisher strategies and scholarly information-seeking behaviours; our fifth session will look at the implications of the global networking of online information; and our final plenary session on Thursday will cover some of the issues surrounding the use of innovative technologies. Together with the closing keynote address, the exhibitions and demonstrations, the final technology workshop, and all the many important hallway conversations and discussions, I'm sure that we will find many stimulating reasons to be glad that we came together here in Bielefeld for these next few days.

It only remains for me, finally, to thank our hosts, the University of Bielefeld, and our principal organiser, Dr Norbert Lossau, for allowing us to assemble here today, to repeat my very warm welcome to you all, and to join you in looking forward to what I'm certain will be a very successful conference.

Meine Damen und Herren: Ich danke Ihnen alle, mit sehr freundlichen Grüssen aus England!

Reg Carr
3 February 2004