Visualization of database structures for information retrieval
This paper describes the Book House system, which is designed to support children's information retrieval in libraries as part of their education. It is a shareware program available on CD-ROM or floppy disks, and comprises functionality for database searching as well as for classifying and storing book information in the database. The system concept is based on an understanding of children's domain structures and their capabilities for categorization of information needs in connection with their activities in schools, in school libraries or in public libraries. These structures are visualized in the interface by using metaphors and multimedia technology. Through the use of text, images and animation, the Book House encourages children - even at a very early age - to learn by doing in an enjoyable way, which plays on their previous experiences with computer games. Both words and pictures can be used for searching; this makes the system suitable for all age groups. Even children who have not yet learned to read properly can, by selecting pictures, search for and find those books they would like to have read aloud. Thus, at the very beginning of their school life, they can learn to search for books on their own. For the library community, such a system will provide an extended service which will increase the number of children's own searches and also improve the relevance, quality and utilization of the book collections in the libraries. A market research report on the need for an annual indexing service for books in the Book House format is in preparation by the Danish Library Centre A/S.
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