Interaction and Interactivity:

User interfaces for Digital Libraries.


A Challenge paper for the 8th DELOS Workshop,

Stockholm, Sweden, 21-23 October, 1998.


Preben Hansen and Jussi Karlgren





We interact constantly with our environment through different communication mechanisms and processes. Information seeking and retrieval in Digital Libraries is but a special case of such a process. Information retrieval research tends to abstract away from both the general aspects of interaction and view actions at the interface as isolated events, and from the special requirements information access tasks pose on interface design.


Many questions from early information retrieval research are still valid and no less important today. In a paper from 1971, Bennett outlines some parameters concerning interactive information retrieval and interface design:



In a later paper (1972), he adds:



to the properties of information system design needs to take into account. This list has not aged.



Challenge question 1:

What have we learnt about interactive information retrieval in the past 25 years?


There are new and emerging research areas that have bearing on our field, that in part did not exist twenty-five years ago:


Challenge question 2:

What new aspects of interactive information retrieval have appeared in the past 25 years?


Challenge question 3:

What will we learn about interactive information retrieval in the next 25 years?





Bennett, J. L. (1971). Interactive bibliographic search as a challenge to interface design. In: D. E. Walker (ed.) Interactive bibliographic search: The User/Computer Interface. Pp. 1-16


Bennett, J. L. (1972). The user interface in interactive systems. ARIST, 7, pp. 159-196.