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Representing Classical Artefacts Online: A User-Centric Approach for an Academic Audience Open Access


Other title
Interface Design
Cultural Heritage
Information-Seeking Behaviour
Museum Informatics
Museum Websites
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Vela, Sarah L
Supervisor and department
Quamen, Harvey (English)
Shiri, Ali (Library and Information Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Rathi, Dinesh (Library and Information Studies)
Oliphant, Tami (Library and Information Studies)
School of Library and Information Studies
Humanities Computing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts/Master of Library and Information Studies
Degree level
This thesis addresses the suitability of current museum websites for supporting the research activities of academic scholars. Over the past few decades, cultural heritage institutions have increasingly made their collections available online, but longstanding issues with the completeness and consistency of their records have resulted in resources of questionable usefulness. In addition, the museum studies community has chronically ignored scholars as a user group worthy of consideration, and there is thus no existing information on what this population expects and needs from digital collections. Focusing on doctorate holders who study Classical antiquities, this research demonstrates how significant academics are as an audience of the websites created by these organizations, and examines what information and functionality the group requires from these resources in contrast with what museums are actually providing. An online survey of twenty-five faculty members at seven major Canadian universities was conducted to provide a preliminary model of an ideal online collection. Based on this theoretical prototype, the websites of ten North American museums were then assessed to determine how well they are meeting the needs of scholars. The results of both studies were used to devise a set of recommended areas on which new digital collections should focus, and which existing resources should prioritize for improvement. Some of the key problems uncovered include the quantity, detail, and consistency of metadata, the number and content of photographs, the limited options for locating and identifying objects of interest, and the poor provisions for comparing artefacts. This research is limited in scope and addresses only a small portion of a large issue, but the results offer a foundation on which future studies might build.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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