Visual analytics for the world’s library data

Today’s libraries provide online access millions of bibliographic records. Librarians and re-searchers require tools that allow them to manage and understand these enormous data sets. Most libraries only offer textual interfaces for searching and browsing their holdings. The re-sulting lists are difficult to navigate and do not allow users to get a general overview. Further-more, data providers such as OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) are trying to enrich bib-liographic databases with semantically meaningful structures which are essentially lost when represented within a list-based interface.

Visualizations provide a means to overcome these difficulties. Graphical representations provide quick access to bibliographic data, facilitate the browsing and identification of relevant metadata, and provide a quick overview of the coverage of libraries. The fields of Information Visualization and Visual Analytics within Computer Science develop computer-supported, in-teractive, visual representations which allow users to extract meaning from large and hetero-geneous data sets. While such visual techniques have become common practice in the sciences, they are little employed by libraries, despite similar increases in available data.

eScience Research Engineers are collaborating with this project team, which aims to develop a cutting-edge visual analytics toolkit, to answer both the pressing needs of humanities researchers and concrete demands of the library industry. The tools will provide visual interfaces for:

The project team will accompany the toolkit development with extensive expert user testing, involving (e-)humanities researchers and the expert user group of OCLC.


  • Bettina Speckmann
    Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Tom Klaver
    Netherlands eScience Center