Toronto Public Library Catalog Redesign

Testing a beta design of a search catalog and incorporating learnings

The library was set to launch a new version of their search interface, but wanted to sanity test the interface with patrons and incorporate any learnings.

My Role

UX Designer


Research Assistant, Program Manager, Library Scientists, Endeca Specialists, Front End Developers, In-House Illustrator


Limited time frame and front end resources
No metrics


User Testing
Faceted Search Design
User Centered Design

Research Findings

The search filters were not being reset after each search resulting in a lot of dead ends. Search results were not designed in a way that users could see or perceive correctly.

The problem and how it was solved

The library had replaced their aging catalog search with a brand new faceted search catalog powered by Endeca. They suspected that interface design had some usability issues, and wanted someone to conduct user testing with patrons in the branches, and then make recommendations.

They’re a smart bunch, most of them highly educated library scientists. I was lucky enough to have been assigned one to conduct the user research and we sought out the library’s personas in person in order to observe them looking for the physical items they already had in hand.

For example, one student had a DVD of the movie Milk, and we had them search the catalog for it while we observed and took notes.

Issues were coded and counted, produced in a then-trendy tag cloud format for management presentation
A sample of the included faceted search interaction designs
Borrowing from the online retail world, an audit was performed to derive common conventions for layout of metadata and primary actions on catalog items


For the first time in their history, a change to the website resulted in a reduce to support call volumes. This was unheard of even for small changes, and this was a massive redesign.