The ability to select how I will view a hefty set of search results in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog is one of the features I love about the catalog. There are three choices: List, Gallery, and Grid, offered at the upper right of the search results page.
The default view is List view. If my results are a mix of digitized and undigitized images, or I’m trying to spot a piece of information such as the date that appears in a consistent position in list view, or I’m just too lazy to change views (because sometimes I’m just that lazy, even though the other views are a click away!), List view it is.
Gallery view offers me images first, with a portion of the title, and since I’m often looking for something for which some identification is needed, I will frequently select that view.
But Grid view, which shows 100 images at a time in smaller squares, without titles, has many virtues–some of them practical, and others more whimsical.
Reference staff are often in the position of helping researchers locate an image that they have already found elsewhere. Grid view can be handy when the content of the image is distinctive enough, and the search to find it broad enough, that there are many, many images to look through and it would be possible to pick the right one out of the crowd.
Do keep in mind, however, that in reducing the often rectangular images to a square, elements are left out. Paul Bunyan is pretty recognizable in this grid view image, but there’s more to him! Selecting a given image in the grid will take you the fuller image with its description.
In each Prints & Photographs Online Catalog search page for a collection or category that you select from the home page, the “view all” option under the search bar will take you to the grid view.
The results can be a little disappointing when the collection is not digitized, but when the digital content is more prevalent, it’s a way to get acquainted with the range of material in the collection, to get a sense of how much is digitized, how much is in color, etc. And you can always select, after the fact, to use one of the filters “Larger image available anywhere” or “Larger image available only at the Library of Congress” to assess what you want to look at and download without coming to the Library of Congress buildings, and what you may eventually want to look at if you can make a visit.
The grid view is also a great way to review many images quickly when you’re looking for a particular trait, especially color. This has come in very handy as I continue to uphold a staff tradition to honor “Purple Thursday.” When we work on site together, we tend to scour our wardrobes for a purple garment in honor of the day. While we have been working separately in the past year, long about Wednesday night, I’m thinking of purplish search terms or trying color-filled collections to see what purple turns up. (I mentioned whimsy, right?)
Sometimes a topic search leads to reflections about how a concentration of images capture a reality we don’t necessarily notice day to day. Looking for gas facilities in the Margolies Roadside America collection made me realize how much roadside architects used red to visually draw the eyes of passers-by.
I also love some of the echoing images and interesting juxtapositions that turn up, sometimes almost accidentally, in displaying search results in grid view. At the risk of making you feel as though you’re doing an online security verification exercise, do you spot the hands (and almost hands) in this result?
And then there’s the sheer pleasure of sitting back and watching the patterns go by. Viewing “World’s Fair” results from the Gottscho-Schleisner photograph collection made me appreciate how much spheres and curves were part of the visual experience of the 1939 World’s Fair.
And this page of results from the Korab Collection, similarly full of shapes and curves, made me more curious about architectural photographer Balthazar Korab’s aesthetic instincts and clients.
Grid view results, juxtaposing colors, tonalities, and shapes, can also inspire me with thoughts about arranging tiles in a backsplash or squares in a quilt (can you tell I’ve spent some time watching home improvement and craft shows?).
No doubt about it, the grid view can be a time saver and provide a feast for the eyes with just that one more click!
- As some of my previous posts have likely revealed, I have been known to use the online catalog as my electronic playground. Explore past blog posts:
- “Summer Looking Challenge–Touring the Collections with Azure Allure“
- “Summer Search: A Plum Assignment”
- “Armchair Travel: Watching the Signs Along the Way”
- “Searching for Signs of Spring: Pruning Search Results”
- “Gadgets in Images: Obvious or Mysterious” – This one started with my trying out various “g” words in the catalog. Melissa Lindberg highlighted some gadget results. But see what catches your eye in search results for some of my other recent “g” words: gables, gas, and glad. If you find any gems(!), send us a link in the comments. And if you discover a great grid in your searching, we’re eager to see those, too!
- Learn more about the John Margolies Roadside America Archive through this overview and through a Story Map that offers a geographic way to visualize the collection, as described in this blog post.
- Sample the architectural photographs in the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection.
- Get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the work of architectural photographer Balthazar Korab through the blog post, “Ready for Research: Balthazar Korab Collection” and a research guide that provides background information and searching guidance.