Speculative metaphors: a design-led approach to the visualisation of library collections

IEEE Technical Committee on Digital Libraries
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Bulletin of IEEE Technical Committee on Digital Libraries, 2015, 1 (11)
Issue Date:
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We are at a critical moment when a library patron’s first, and sometimes only, point of access to library collections is an interface. The relationship we have with physical collections can not be discounted but it also can not be re-created within the screen space. There is a need to understand not only how interfaces operate and how they can be ‘usable’ but also how they shape our relationship with library collections. There is a need to understand how dominant orders of classification are reinforced through their visual representation within collection interfaces and how this shapes the way in which we come to know things. Johanna Drucker notes: “Digital technology depends on visual presentation for much of its effectiveness…but critical understanding of visual knowledge production remains oddly underdeveloped”. We have an opportunity to rethink how we encounter collections through the physical act of browsing and through an interface; an opportunity that is not being addressed. What does each of these experiences afford? How can we reimagine the library collection? In this dissertation I will explore these opportunities through a practice-based approach to the development of a set of speculative prototypes. I will seek to re-imagine the collection through an exploration of the role of metaphor in the visual language of library interfaces and our experience of library collections.
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