Call for Proposals

We are seeking scholars and specialists inside and outside the traditional boundaries of library scholarship to join our proposed panel discussion on the challenges and failures of browsing in today's electronic environment at The Association of College & Research Libraries Conference is in Portland, OR, March 25-28, 2015

Procedure -  Please email Kate Joranson,, briefly describing your interest in the topic as well as your professional background. Upon acceptance, we will work with you to develop questions to shape the panel's discussion.

Deadline - Monday May 5

Summary of Proposed Panel

Over the past two decades, the terms “discovery” and “search” have become conflated both in our collective lexicon and in the functionality of our discovery systems. An effect of this is that the other major component of discovery, browse, has been cast aside as outdated and irrelevant. We know, however, that browsing is a valued component of discovery for scholars and students in our libraries, and that these users express, explicitly and implicitly, a sense of loss in the face of search-focused discovery systems.

The momentum generated by the Semantic Web movement and the Library Linked Data movement suggest a great deal of potential for improved browse capability in discovery systems, yet browsing has been largely ignored by the creators of discovery tools. Innovations in discovery and access to information outside libraries (e.g. e-commerce) have far surpassed innovation for library discovery tools. Incorporating such technologies and concepts as linked data, user-focused design, and lessons learned from e-commerce can help us realize the potential of electronic browsing as a function of discovery. We must learn from the successes of information systems outside of libraries but not fall for the trap of parodying these technologies. Rather, we need to ask more of these technologies, shaping them to embody our values and the values of our patrons, such as historic reach, cultural significance, and intellectual integrity.

This panel will bring together practitioners, designers, and administrators of library information systems to discuss why electronic browsing is broken and how, or if, it can be fixed. The panelists will briefly present their perspective on the problems of electronic browsing and then will participate in a conversation facilitated by the moderators. Questions to be addressed by all panelists include:


  •  Why and how are our discovery systems (databases, discovery layers) failing our users?
  • On whom do we place the burden for facilitating discovery and who else might share that burden?
  • How can libraries incentivize creativity and risk in the development of discovery tools?
  • What do you wish were possible in an electronic browsing and discovery environment? Why is this not currently possible?

Through these questions and discussions we hope to drive at the heart of the problems of electronic browsing in our current digital library environment, how we might reset the balance between search and browse in the discovery experience, and what lessons we might learn from those outside of libraries.


Nina Clements, Steve VanTuyl, and Kate Joranson are project collaborators at


Kate Joranson

Business Reference Librarian, Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh Kate Joranson studied art at the University of Wisconsin, earned her MFA at Ohio State University, and an MLIS at the University of Pittsburgh. As both a librarian and an artist, she enjoys the accidental nature of looking for one thing, and finding something else. As a blogger, she cultivates collisions and connections among seemingly disparate interests. Snow drifts, messy kitchens, market research, and pink scaffolding are all topics you may encounter on her blog, where she explores search engines as a medium. Also: small business owner, gardener, knitter.