Week 12: The Children's Cataglogue – Service Review

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    • #2574
      Jennifer Cotton

      When I was a child I visited the local library with my family. By chance I stumbled upon a book about Islam. Having been raised in a Protestant household this book opened my mind to the concept of other religions, it was like peering through a window into another world. When asked why I would want to borrow a book about Islam, my answer was “To learn about it.”

      At that time, computer catalogues were just starting to come in. I could use the computers better than anyone one in my family, there was only one problem. I couldn’t read. Flash forward to 2015, I began wondering if library’s catalogues are more child friendly. I sat down to investigate.

      Children can have experience difficulty when seeking information due to a lack of images and other media in a structured manner. Spelling and reading, the digital divide and a failure to grasp keywords also hinders children’s information seeking. Children can benefit from presentations, puzzles and games and graphical interfaces specifically designed for children.

      Bearing in mind what features make a good children’s library catalogue, I evaluated a Kid’s Catalogue. The home page of the catalogue contained 14 images depicting 14 broad categories. The home page also contained 5 images to links to educational games and programmes as well as a digital Storytime collection.

      The catalogue was easy to navigate. Should a child wish to research ‘Sports’ they simply click on the image of two Basketball players shooting hoop. The next page lists 26 subcategories, each topic with its own image. Clicking on the ‘Soccer’ image of players playing soccer brings up the results of the search. Each listed item has a large thumbnail of its cover enabling a child to see what it looks like.

      As mentioned previously, the catalogue also contains links to games, programmes and an online Storytime programme. The programmes include literacy and maths games as well as general learning activities. The Storytime stories are read by children’s authors and illustrators.

      I was somewhat happy with the Kid’s Catalogue. I was able to find Junior books about Koalas simply by following the images. I believe a child who is just starting to read would be able to successfully navigate to the search results, provided they are familiar with computers. The games and programmes all contained bright, colourful characters and would be engaging for a child. The Storytime programme is charming and it would provide a wonderful opportunity for a child to put a face to the names on their books.

      While I was browsing the catalogue I could hear my young nephew in my head requesting items about Spiderman and trucks. However, I could not find information about Spiderman or trucks leading me to believe the catalogue may not cover all children’s areas of interest, or at least does not use the keywords a child would use. Though the Kid’s Catalogue contains a rudimentary index page, this page can be challenging for some children. For example, some children may not know knitting begins with a “K”.

      I can see young Jenny using the catalogue, especially the games and programmes, but I can also see her becoming frustrated by the limited subject areas before giving up and either figuring out the adult catalogue or simply asking her favourite librarian for help.

    • #2601
      Katherine Lee

      Hi Jenny, great post. What an interesting subject! I had never considered the need for a kids catalogue before I had always assumed that children would be assisted by their parents to search for books. But allowing kids to do their own searching gives them so much more autonomy and independence, I think it’s a great concept. The use of images to link to books with particular similar subjects does seem limited, as you suggest. Do you have an ideas for ways that the catalogue could be better designed?

      • #2654
        Jennifer Cotton

        Thank you Katherine 🙂 I think the library could get have more focus groups asking children what they’re interests are, it would also be helpful to note the language the children are using. The language the children are using to describe their interests would be akin to how they would search.

    • #2611
      Will Wood

      Hey Jennifer,

      Awesome post! You chose a really cool topic to explore from a perspective I’d not ever thought about before. In this day and age where babies are using tablets and smartphones it’s easy to forget that a large component of understanding stems from information literacy and reading skills and not just the ability to click on things. It was really interesting to read about the picture based interface but from what you’ve discovered it sounds like they could really take it a bit further and continue to improve the service capabilities. I know my young self would have wanted some quick links to trucks and superheroes too!

    • #2625
      hanan albishri

      Hi jenny.. An interesting post .. I think children need to this great concept when they go to library to assist and give them independence ..
      Thanks for great review:)

    • #2663
      Paola Beretta

      Hi Jenny,

      I really enjoyed your post. Through your description I could see through the perspective of a child – a very cool viewpoint to analyse a service. I still love everything with pictures, not just words (and I know you do too!). Are you able to post the link for the catalogue you consulted? I am curious to have a look. Thanks for a great post!

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