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

  • Author / Creator
    Vela, Sarah L
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts/Master of Library and Information Studies
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.