Ph.d.project description (short version)

The users and the Danish digitized cultural heritage online: usage, search strategies and findability

Denmark has begun to digitize the cultural heritage in larger scale during the 2000s. The collections of digitized materials include substantial amounts of texts, books, pictures and movies and a large part of the collections is available on the internet, but how are they used? The ph.d.-project focuses on the public’s use of digitized cultural heritage in everyday life.

I will study the memory institutions’ digital collections and define digitized heritage as what the ALM institutions together with audiovisual archives have saved and then digitized, in order to limit the investigation in a way that works operationally.

I will in the project focus on the relations between the users (search) behavior, search strategies and the findability of the cultural resources. The investigation is limited to four aspects, highlighting the users and the digital cultural heritage from different directions:

  1. What do the users do in the cultural heritage resource? How do the users navigate and search in the material? Do they stay long in the resource or leave immediately?
  2. How do users find the cultural heritage resource? Will the users through a cultural heritage portal, or through a search in Google? If through a search engine, what keywords they have used?
  3. How accessible/findable is the heritage resource and its objects? Are the cultural heritage resource and its content index in such Google? Can users link to an individual object, such as a picture or video?
  4. WWhat are the users’ thoughts on the heritage resources? What do they wish to find of the cultural heritage on the Internet? Do they usually search for digitized cultural heritage, and if so, how and where? Why do they look for cultural heritage on the Internet, in what purpose should it be used?

The study will primarily be based on analysis of log files (1 and 2), to capture the real information behavior. Web Surveys attached to one or more studied heritage resources to collect users’ thoughts and opinions (4) in addition to the log analysis. The findability-aspects (3) will be studied by a review of the investigated cultural resources by means of analytical framework.

The project can be summarized as information searching in context, where context is the digital environment (the web + local information systems) and that is the arena of user interaction with the digital heritage.

The Swedish version: www.iva.dk/jf

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