The ICDL has a simple, yet unique user interface. Looking at the ICDL’s home page, visitors can instantly tell that the interface is designed for young readers. Everything that is visible to the eye is short and simple, arranged in an orderly way. The name of the digital library itself is at the very top; the text color is red, emboldened and capitalized, making it pop out. Beneath the library’s name, “A Library for the Children’s World” is presented. Visitors have the option to switch the home page to Español (Spanish), Français (French), Монгол (Mongolian), and Русский (Russian). Among these four, the Mongolian version is the shortest and simplest. What is interesting to note about the other three versions is that they lack the shiny “READ BOOKS!” icon underneath the banner. The ICDL’s home page contains many helpful links that can guide and inform users in their exploration.
How are the ICDL’s books cataloged? The ICDL utilizes non-traditional cataloging structures (Hutchinson et. al, 2005). Books are cataloged by unique categories such as age, language, cover colors, shape, characters, feeling, culture and society, etc. This is an incredibly special cataloging format and I have never seen any library catalogs use these labels before. Discovering books is bound to be an adventure.
The Simple Search interface is the most popular choice among visitors of the ICDL. The icons are very colorful and visually appealing to the eye. Books are categorized by cover colors, age, fiction/nonfiction, characters, picture/chapter books, and so on. The drop-down menu allows a user to search the catalog for books listed in the language or languages selected. Children would probably find Simple Search to be the most fun. For example, if a user wants to specify a search by clicking on “Red Covers,” a crawling green caterpillar will pop up while the page is still loading results with text that states “Searching for books…please wait.”
The Advanced Search interface is the second most popular choice (and it’s also my default interface). It offers a keyword search, but the keyword search can also be accessed via the main page without the Advanced Search options. In the Advanced Search interface, of course, keyword search is the only option and this is understandable because it is meant to be used by children. Keyword searches can be performed in a variety of languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and so on.
The Location Search interface is not as commonly selected as Simple Search and Advanced Search. Location Search is, of course, very easy. Clicking on the arrow will spin the globe and bring viewers to different parts of the world, mainly by continent. If patrons hover over a certain continent, it will light up and provide the continent’s name, providing a hyperlink to a results page that consists of books cataloged under the region selected.