Metaphors for discovery: how interfaces shape our relationships with library collections

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Library patrons are relying on graphical interfaces to not only find items but to browse and understand the context and scope of library collections. Current library interfaces favour goal-oriented search rather than open-ended discovery. They do not replicate the context provided by books on shelves, hence our experience of the library is altered. Removing the books from the shelves, however, provides us with an opportunity to explore the way in which order has dominated the metaphors used within library interfaces and to seek out new and potentially novel metaphors that do not seek to replicate the experience of the shelves, but nevertheless provide us with an experience that is rich and rewarding. This research pursues a practice-based approach to the development of a set of speculative prototypes that will seek to explore the role of metaphor in our experience of library collections. This paper describes doctoral work in progress.
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