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A Modular Approach to Search

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When searching through collections of books or written texts, the efficient yet limiting query paradigm is still the most dominant entry point. Previous work characterizes search processes in various contexts and describes them as integral and closely related to creative endeavours. We revisit this work from a design perspective, proposing guidelines for versa- tile search interfaces that are based on a modular approach to search. Inspired by aspects of search in physical environments, our recommendations address learning, creativity, inspiration, and pleasure as positive aspects of (book) search. Based on in-depth interviews with library patrons about search practises in physical and digital environments and drawing from previous work on search behaviour, we discuss search patterns as modular constructs consisting of micro-strategies. We illustrate how the structure of these pat- terns is highly flexible. Much like creative processes, they fluidly evolve based on learning and ideation during search, particularly in physical environments. This modular perspective provides a basis for designing interfaces that facilitate creative approaches to search in digital environments.