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Multilinguality in Information Access to Digital Libraries
User Needs and Evaluation of multilingual resources use

MLIA4DL 2009, 9 September 2009, Trento (Italy)

Workshop at the International Conference on Digital Libraries and the Semantic Web 2009 (ICSD2009)

Aim | Programme | Outcome / Publication |
Programme Committee | Workshop Organisation |


Digital libraries are becoming increasingly complex. They draw on diverse resources, need to satisfy many different user needs and carry out tasks that are getting more and more complicated. The amount of information managed by such systems, its heterogeneity and variety, and the demand for insightful access to it are key challenges in the present research agenda. A particular challenge to overcome in this context are multilingual and multicultural issues in the information organization, retrieval and representation of information objects.

Many digital library projects – especially in a pan-European context – are concerned with enabling users to navigate and find relevant content not described in their native language. Through the provision of multilingual access capabilities - that is the translation and mapping of the portal interfaces, object descriptions, browsing categories and even user queries – users could retrieve and leverage content equally, regardless of their native language or the available native language of the resources.

Multilingual information access systems cannot simply be inserted as “black boxes” but need to know and effectively exploit the peculiar features of the managed information resources and interact with the varied user groups.

The objective of this workshop was to bring together researchers, stakeholders, and representatives of pan-European digital library projects to discuss multilingual user needs, assessment methods for requirements, and usage logging of multilingual resources use as well as practical implementation issues when incorporating multilingual capabilities into a digital library.



9:00 – 9:20 Welcome and introduction - Nicola Ferro & Vivien Petras

9:20 – 9:50 Multimatch - Franca Debole

Abstract: This talk presented the MultiMatch project whose aim was to have a multilingual search engine, specialized for searching cultural heritage objects available on the Web and stored in digital archives. A search engine where the users can formulate queries in a given language and retrieve results in one or all languages according to their preferences. Multilingual searches are performed by a combination of machine translation and domain-specific dictionary components.

9:50 – 10:20 The multilingual facet of the CACAO project - Luca Dini & Fréderique Segond

Abstract: This talk focused on multilingual issues for accessing, understanding and navigating multilingual textual content in digital libraries and library catalogues. It presented how these issues have been addressed in the context of the CACAO project in which European end-users can type queries in their own language and retrieve documents and objects in any available language. A demo of the resulting services was also showed.

10:20 – 10:50 Metadata and multi-lingualism; OCLC projects and initiatives - Janifer Gatenby

Abstract: The paper addressed metadata organisation and enrichment to support multi-lingual interfaces. It covered OCLC projects and initiatives including name and place authority data (VIAF and WorldCat identities), subject authority data (terminologies and Dewey) and parallel records in WorldCat and related data files.

10:50 - 11:10 Coffee break

11:10 – 11:40 CLARIN - A Common Language Resources and Tools Infrastructure - Erhard Hinrichs

Abstract: The CLARIN project is a large-scale pan-European collaborative effort to create, coordinate and make language resources and technology available and readily usable. This talk provided an overview of the CLARIN project, focusing on issues of interoperability of language resources and tools, particularly in the context of a distributed web service architecture.

11:40 – 12:10 TrebleCLEF - Nicola Ferro

12:10 - 13:30 Lunch break

13:30 – 14:00 Multilinguality from an European(a) perspective - Sjoerd Siebinga

Abstract: This talk aimed to explore where we are after four years of targeted support for multilinguality in EU funded frameworks and what we need to achieve in order to meet EU commission expectation on enabling cross-language access to Cultural Heritage objects. Some of the topics covered are: what we canlearn from the past and which hidden assumptions and requirements have made progress so difficult; and why, as the improvement of cross-lingual information retrieval software is going faster, we see the adoption of this software on the web progressively slowing down.

14:00 – 14:30 EuropeanaConnect multilinguality survey - Nicola Ferro & Vivien Petras

Abstract: A survey about “Multilingual Information Access to Europeana” to gather user feedback and requirements about multilinguality was administered to 2 groups in June of 2009: librarians and a group of PhD students and researchers with CLIR focus. The survey, the rationale behind the questions and some preliminary results were presented.

14:30 - 15:00 Coffee break

Summary of points discussed

15:00 – 15:15 Report from rapporteur - what are the commonalities / interesting practices

15:15 – 16:15 Discussion: user needs and user assessment for multilingual access in digital libraries

16:15 – 16:45 Discussion: steps for a white paper

16:45 – 17:00 Wrapping up & Conclusion

Outcome / Publication

The position papers and the results of the workshop discussion shall be the starting point for a white paper on multilinguality in digital libraries cooperatively authored and developed - outlining the most important issues and approaches for implementation.

Programme Committee

  • Nicola Ferro (Co-chair), University of Padova, Italy
  • Vivien Petras (Co-chair), Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
  • Maristella Agosti, University of Padova, Italy
  • Tiziana Catarci, University of Rome 'La Sapienza', Italy
  • Luca Dini, CELI, Torino, Italy
  • Floriana Esposito, University of Bari, Italy
  • Thomas Mandl, University of Hildesheim, Germany
  • Carlo Meghini, ISTI-CNR, Pisa, Italy
  • Jacco van Ossenburgen, Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Carol Peters, ISTI-CNR, Pisa, Italy
  • Jacques Savoy, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland
  • Frédérique Segond, Xerox Research Centre Europe, Grenoble, France.

Workshop Organisation

The workshop was organised by the eContentplus EuropeanaConnect project working on multilingual access for the Europeana portal.

For information, please contact the co-chairs of the programme committee:
Nicola Ferro, University of Padua, Italy (
Vivien Petras, Humboldt-University Berlin , Germany (