Exploratory Subject Searching in Library Catalogs: Reclaiming the Vision


  • Julia Bauder Grinnell College Libraries
  • Emma Lange Grinnell College




Librarians have had innovative ideas for ways to use subject and classification data to provide an improved online search experience for decades, and yet, after thirty-plus years of improvements in online catalogs, users continue to struggle with narrowing down their subject searches to produce manageable lists containing only relevant results. This article reports on one attempt to rectify that situation by radically re-envisioning the library catalog interface, enabling users to interact with and explore their search results in a profoundly different way. This new interface gives users the option of viewing a graphical overview of their results, grouped by discipline and subject. Results are depicted as a two-level treemap, which gives users a visual representation of the disciplinary perspectives (as represented by the main classes of the Library of Congress Classification) and topics (as represented by elements of the Library of Congress Subject Headings) included in the results.

Author Biographies

Julia Bauder, Grinnell College Libraries

Social Studies and Data Services Librarian, Grinnell College Libraries

Emma Lange, Grinnell College

Class of 2016


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How to Cite

Bauder, J., & Lange, E. (2015). Exploratory Subject Searching in Library Catalogs: Reclaiming the Vision. Information Technology and Libraries, 34(2), 92–102. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v34i2.5888