The Spatial Information Design Lab is now the Center for Spatial Research at Columbia University. Visit our new site at to find out about current projects and upcoming events. This site is an archive of work completed up to 2014.

The Library Project

The Library Project

Like many public libraries across the United States, university libraries are undergoing massive changes as their catalogues and parts of their collections have been digitized, and their physical collections have outgrown their physical space. Browsing the collection now often happens online. What are the possible ways we can browse the collection and learn about how networks of knowledge are created across the Columbia University community?

Today, when one walks into a library, whether public or private, there is no way to comprehend the immensity, character and value of its collection. Perhaps this is visible in the vastness of the stacks, or of the building, but for the most part, the collection remains invisible.  “Serendipity Search” will allow for surfacing of books and other media stored in the library, into the hands of researchers and interested individuals through a more compelling and curiosity-provoking interface. In our current prototype, at the first level, we have visualized the Columbia Libraries collection in a single interactive interface.  At the second level, we have designed our first tool which browses library book which have multiple subjects in their metadata. 

Explore the two interfaces here: 

Project Team

Project Director: Laura Kurgan

Design and Development: Annelie Berner

Data Visualization: Derek Watkins, Jen Lowe

Project Contact:
Type: Data visualization