20th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecture

Dr. Shalini R. Urs

Executive Director and Professor, International School of Information Management, University of Mysore, India

Picture of Urs

 Shifting Terrains, Crossing Boundaries: Digital Libraries are Personal and Social Again!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 – 4:00pm
Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Room 126
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Reception following lecture

Dr. Urs’ power point slides are available for download
A recording of Dr. Urs’ talk is also available for listening.

Digital libraries, a field that is coterminous with the Internet, are on the cusp of change. With the advent and adoption of the Web 2.0 paradigm and technologies, digital libraries are crossing borders and are personal and social as well. Initially, technical aspects dominated research and discourse. Then there was a renaissance of the social dimension of libraries with the realization that digital libraries need to be usable and engaging, and Web 2.0 technologies have helped turn this realization into a reality. Contemporary digital libraries transcend geographic and disciplinary boundaries, cross over diverse content types–from scholarly to trivia, document genres of every kind, and embrace digital objects of different hues and formats; the concept of metadata has transformed to include everything from author to annotations to access modes.

In this new era of digital libraries, the emphasis has shifted from the technical to social aspects of personalization, interaction, collaboration, and co-creation of content and commentaries. The traditional boundaries of file formats, documents, document genres, content and collections, information infrastructures, and libraries have given way to a seamless and form-free accessing of information space full of social interaction. Five features that characterize “new” digital libraries include: crossing boundaries, co-creation, interaction, personalization, and socialization. Preservation, one of the core functions of early libraries, is once again at the forefront of research and steadily becoming a more important topic in digital libraries.

This lecture will provide an overview of the open and collaborative community paradigm promoted by digital libraries, which offers rich interactions and moves away from a collection-centric approach toward creating dynamic information spaces that know no boundaries or borders. Newer conceptualizations of digital libraries offer immense possibilities to transform societies, especially developing ones such as India. Coupled with the mobile revolution, the information world will not only transform but also impact society like never before.

Dr. Shalini R. Urs, Executive Director and Professor, International School of Information Management at the University of Mysore, India, will be the 2010 Mortenson Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Urs is an information scientist who has an interest in all matters of the mind–from creative to cognitive to cultural. Looking broadly at information, she has researched issues ranging from the theoretical foundations of information science to the technological aspects of digital libraries. In addition to digital libraries, her areas of research include relevance and information retrieval, content management systems, ontology, and social network analysis.

For the last 35 years, Dr. Urs has been a faculty member in the Department of Library and Information Science at the University of Mysore. She conceptualized and founded the International School of Information Management (ISiM) at the University of Mysore–the first and only iSchool in India–with seed funding from the Ford Foundation and Informatics India in collaboration with leading information schools in the U.S. Dr. Urs currently serves as executive director and professor of ISiM and is working toward putting ISiM on the map as a world-class institution. Additionally, she has helped with the formation of the Consortium of iSchools of Asia-Pacific (CiSAP), where she currently serves as Vice Chair.

Her professional accomplishments also include: being a Fulbright scholar and visiting professor at Virginia Tech from 2000-2001; the establishment the Vidyanidhi Digital Library Project, an internationally-known Indian digital library; and leading the Electronic Theses and Dissertations movement in India. She also helped to bring the International Conference on Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL) to India in December 2001, and was involved in organizing the conference. Dr. Urs currently serves as Chair of ICADL’s Asian Digital Library Steering Committee. Dr. Urs also serves on the Board of Directors of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), a Virginia Tech-based global initiative, and previously served on the Governing Board of the Inter University Centre of University Grants Commission (INFLIBNET) from 2001-2004.

Dr. Urs’ work and dedication to the field has been widely recognized and awarded, including the NCLTD-Adobe Leadership Award in 2004 and the Emerald Research Fund Award in the category of Indian Library and Information Science in 2007-2008. Widely traveled, she has also been invited to speak at many national and international conferences and served as a UNESCO expert.