November 2021 was a very busy time for IRSG. The Search Solutions Conference took place virtually on 24 November. You can read reports on the conference and on the two tutorials in this issue. There is also a list of the BCS Search Industry Awards that were announced at the Conference. Continuing the ‘awards’ theme the winner of the 2021 Karen Spärk Jones award is Dr Ivan Vulić (University of Cambridge). IRSG is a partner with UKeiG in the selection of the Strix award. The Strix Award Lecture this year was given by Professor Ian Ruthven.
The IRSG AGM took place immediately after the Conference, and there have been a number of changes to the list of Committee members. These changes are also mentioned by IRSG Chairman Udo Kruschwitz in his review of 2021 and IRSG plans for 2022. These include ECIR 2022 in Stavanger in April and a series of eight lectures in February and March which will offer a relatively low-technology introduction to information retrieval. The concept was developed by ISKO UK, which has invited IRSG to give some of the lectures. IRSG members can attend free of charge.
The opening paper at Search Solutions was given by Professor Katriina Bystrom (Metropolitan University of Oslo) who has been working on a project led by Professor Marianne Lykke (University of Aalborg) on an analysis of how a major biotech company makes use of enterprise search. As far as I am aware this is the first-ever paper that does a deep dive into an organisation-wide use of enterprise search, and I have added a commentary on the outcomes based on my own experience over the last two decades. The other feature article is about the challenges of extracting text content from PDF files. This is much more challenging than most search managers appreciate, and I am very grateful to Tim Allison, a consultant at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for explaining why text extraction from PDFs is so difficult and how the process should be managed.
Also in this issue is a book review of a narrative account of the development of web search and the very useful list of events compiled by Andy MacFarlane, one of which is the ACS/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries in June.
And finally I offer some thoughts about the lack of recent text books on IR at either undergraduate or post-graduate level