visualisation techniques

Visualization Techniques for Librarians and eHumanities Researchers

Visualization Techniques for Librarians and eHumanities Researchers

26 November, 2015

How can librarians use visualizations, such as maps, to manage, analyze, and present library collections? How can visualizations of large bibliographic datasets and other complex data help researchers in the eHumanities to ask and answer new research questions? This workshop brings together librarians and researchers within the fields of algorithms, visual analytics, and humanities, to discuss the design, utility, and practical applications of visualization within the library sector and the eHumanities.

The workshop has four aims: (i) investigate how librarians and library users can use (geo-) visualization techniques to manage, explore, and comprehend library collections, (ii) present ongoing research in the eHumanities that uses such visualization techniques, (iii) provide a forum for researchers in the library sector, the fields of algorithms, information visualization and visual analytics, and the eHumanities to meet and to discuss possibilities for collaboration, (iv) kick-off the NWO Creative Industries project Visual Analytics for the World’s Library Data.

Location:                 OCLC Leiden, Conference Room Schipholweg 99, Leiden (directions:

Everyone interested in visualization techniques is cordially invited! (But please register – information below.)

Program (abstracts below):

12:00 – 12:15.       Coffee/tea

12:15 – 12:30.       Welcome

Arianna Betti (Network Institute, University of Amsterdam)

12:30 – 13:00.       CatVis: Interactive Visualization of very large GLAM data

Thom Castermans (TU Eindhoven)

13:00 – 14:00.       Lunch

14:00 – 14:30.         Exploring a world of networked information built from free-text metadata

Rob Koopman (OCLC)

14:30 – 15:00.     Rijksmuseum: more than just a pretty picture

Lizzy Jongma (Datamanager Rijksmuseum)

15:00 – 15:30.         Coffee/tea

15:30 – 16:00.         Beyond Search. Visualization and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Elsbeth Kwant (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands)

16:00 – 16:30.          Deep Maps and Deep Networks. Visualizations for Circulation of Knowledge and Collection History

Charles van den Heuvel (Huygens ING & University of Amsterdam) & Ingeborg van Vugt (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)

16:30 – 17:00.         Mapping Human Values

Mark Alfano (Delft University of Technology)

17:00 – 17:30.        Drinks

You are more than welcome to join this event. If you are planning on visiting the event, please register no later than 19 November by sending an email to

The workshop has been made possible by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and OCLC.



CatVis: Interactive Visualization of very large GLAM data, Thom Castermans (TU/e).
Abstract: Today’s libraries provide online access to millions of bibliographic records. Librarians and researchers require tools that allow them to manage and understand these enormous data sets. Most libraries only offer textual interfaces for searching and browsing their holdings. The resulting lists are difficult to navigate and do not allow users to get a general overview. Furthermore, data providers such as OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) are trying to enrich bibliographic databases with semantically meaningful structures which are essentially lost when represented within a list-based interface.

Together with OCLC’s research scientists we aim to develop a cutting-edge visual analytics toolkit, to answer both the pressing needs of humanities researchers and concrete demands of the library industry. Our tools will provide visual interfaces for: (1) data cleaning, clustering, and enrichment, (2) data analysis, and (3) intuitive and interactive (geographic) representation of search results. We will accompany the toolkit development with extensive expert user testing, involving (e-)humanities researchers and the expert user group of OCLC. During this talk I will present the current version of GlamMap and touch upon its underlying principles.

xploring a world of networked information built from free-text metadata, Rob Koopman (OCLC)
Abstract: In this talk, we will report a recent initiative of OCLC Research to create an alternative access to its bibliographic databases. The Ariadne context explorer is designed to visualize the networks of entities associated with bibliographic records. It allows users to interactively explore the local context of the interested entities, which could be already catalogued in the bibliographic records (e.g. journal, authors, Dewey decimal codes, publishers, subject headings, etc.) or topical terms extracted from the free text metadata fields (e.g. title, abstract, etc.).

The making of the Ariadne consists of two steps: an offline procedure for semantic indexing and an online interactive visualization of the context of search queries. Off-line, we build the semantic representation of each entity where Random Projection is used to vigorously reduce dimensionality (from a few million to a few hundred). In the on-line interface terms from a query are compared to entities in the reduced semantic matrix where reciprocal relatedness is used to select genuine matches. The number of hits is further reduced to render a network layout easy to overview and navigate.

We will demonstrate the Ariadne   context explorer   and its applications in name disambiguation, scientometrics, and information retrieval.

ijksmuseum: more than just a pretty picture, Lizzy Jongma (Datamanager Rijksmuseum)
Abstract: The Rijksmuseum holds a collection of over 1.2 million objects. 700.000 works of Art on paper. In 2012 the museum took a couple of bold steps: the entire collection was made available as an Open Data set for developers, techies to download and reuse for commercial and non-commercial use. And later that year the museum launched its new website: Rijks Studio. The mantra of the website is images first. And it is OK to use difficult, experimental techniques, but it is not OK to create difficult interfaces for our audiences. The website is designed to inspire and stimulate reuse of the collections of the museum. All images and metadata are (if not copyright protected) available under a CC0/Public Domain license.

The Rijksmuseum is currently working on opening up its scholarly data and restauration information, converting its data to Linked Open Data and connect to external LOD resources for improving its annotations and the museum is building new, visual tools for annotating objects in the collection. All new tools and information are visual, user-friendly and freely available, reusable.

This presentation will focus on linking, sharing, using and reusing the museums collections and external data sources with visual, easy to use interfaces.

eyond Search. Visualization and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Elsbeth Kwant (Koninklijke

Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands).
Abstract: This talk will address visualization as an important way to give library users alternatives to search to access and evaluate collections. A few examples of visualizing library data at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek will be presented.


Deep Maps and Deep Networks. Visualizations for Circulation of Knowledge and Collection History, Charles van den Heuvel (Huygens ING & University of Amsterdam) & Ingeborg van Vugt (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa).
Abstract: GlamMap focuses on visualizing geographical locations of cultural heritage artifacts, for instance in libraries. However, collection history learns that books, drawings and all sorts of objects circulated in epistolary networks before they ended up in libraries. David Bodenhamer introduced the term deep maps to include hermeneutic approaches in GIS applications. Inspired by this term Charles van den Heuvel used the term deep networks to visualize the circulation of intellectual and technological knowledge exchange. We suggest that in the CatVis project, aimed at Visual Analytics of World’s Library Data, the geographical representations of GlamMap can be contextualized with network visualizations of collection history. We will conclude with some advances in combining geographical and network representations and the challenges to connect deep maps to deep networks on a more generic level.


Mapping Human Values, Mark Alfano (Delft University of Technology).
Abstract: What people say about the dead tells us a great deal about their values. Given a brief space to summarize the entire life of a deceased relative or friend, the authors of obituaries may be expected to signal as concisely and strikingly as possible to their readers which of the most important, communally-accepted values the deceased manifested. Using data-mining techniques, we gathered and performed text analyses on over 13,000 obituaries of ordinary Americans to extract patterns of evaluative judgments. Primary value-clusters include sports, learning, art, martial values, research, family, and business. Using network graphing and related analyses, we have found evidence for distinct clusters of values in different communities across the country, as well as the extent to which different values are associated with different generations, the extent to which different values are associated with men and women, and the extent to which values are geographically isolated. This is part of a larger project that I’m currently working on, which will eventually use data-mining tools to explore millions of obituaries around the world.