IR for Children 2000-2020: Where Are We Now?

Theo Huibers, Monica Landoni, Emiliana Murgia, and Maria Soledad Pera. 2021. “IR for Children 2000-2020: Where Are We Now?”. In Proceedings of the 44th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR ‘21). ACM, 2689-2692 pp. DOI:10.1145/3404835.3462822.


Over 20 years ago, Information Retrieval (IR) researchers began their quest for sound IR systems for children. The path was not straightforward. Challenges posed by interface design, relevance determination, diverse contexts, ethics, and many more, were taken up and explored from different perspectives. Large projects such as Puppy-IR and the International Children’s Digital Library gave this field a certain boost; still, there is neither a sound solution for children in the search area in 2021 nor a roadmap to get there. What is the reason for this? Does the field cry out for specific IR solutions developed on a small scale for very small sub-fields and specific target groups? Are there some significant unforeseen barriers that hinder researchers? What about obstacles natural to areas of study such as this one that require a multidisciplinary approach or involve protected populations? With this workshop, we want to bring together as many key experts as possible from research and industry who focus on IR for children to understand why, unlike other IR areas, this one has not flourished and look for the biggest challenges for the next 10 years. We are not only thinking of traditional researchers and designers but also of those who develop and use IR systems for fields, such as in music, film, and education, as a way to push past this immobility and look at the problem from new, and perhaps more stimulating, perspectives.