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User Engagement with Digital Archives: A Case Study of Emblematica Online


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Presentation on user study of Emblematica Online at Joint CSDH/SCHN and ACH 2015 conference.

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User Engagement with Digital Archives: A Case Study of Emblematica Online

  1. 1. User Engagement with Digital Archives: A Case Study of Emblematica Online Harriett Green University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign Joint CSDH/SCHN and ACH 2015 Conference June 2, 2015
  2. 2. Today’s talk • Digital collections + user engagement • Overview of Emblematica Online • Results of usability study of Emblematica • What are the future implications for humanities scholarship with digital collections? @greenharr
  3. 3. Digital Collections and Humanities Scholars • Brockman Palmer, et al., ScholarlyWork in the Humanities and the Evolving Information Environment (CLIR Pub 104) • Our Cultural Commonwealth: The Report of the ACLS Commission on Cyberinfrastructure in the Humanities and Social Sciences • Log Analysis of Internet Resources in the Arts and Humanities Project (LAIRAH) • Ithaka S+R, Supporting the Changing Research Practices of… - Art Historians, Historians @greenharr
  4. 4. Scholarly Primitives • Discovering • Annotating • Comparing • Referring • Sampling • Illustrating • Representing “Software intended to enable these primitives should be developed and tested in the context of real scholarly use, but it should resist customization, because purpose-built or project-centered software is unlikely to provide broad support for functional primitives.”—John Unsworth
  5. 5. User Assessment
  6. 6. Why user studies of digital archives? “As the web only continues to grow and provide many alternative information sources for those who seek them, developing robust strategies not just for ‘passive’ discovery but for ‘active’ outreach may be called for.”—Ithaka S+R, Appraising Our Digital Investment • Build digital collections for increased use • Ensure ROI on funding • How?: Connect digital content to actual research practices @greenharr
  7. 7. User Assessment is Necessary “While a greater reliance and dependency on digital resources is inevitable, the quality of the data and their organization and accessibility in service to teaching and scholarship are major concerns. “Without the guiding voice of scholars, the tremendous effort now being devoted to digitizing our cultural heritage could in fact impede, not facilitate, future research.” —Charles Henry, The Idea of Order:Transforming Research Collections for 21st Century Scholarship @greenharr
  8. 8. Emblematica Online
  9. 9. What is an Emblem? Motto Pictura Subscriptio Peter Isselburg, Emblemata Politica, 1617 ooks2009-10/emblematapolitic00isel/ @greenharr
  10. 10. Emblematica Online • Provides single point of access to digitized emblem books from libraries in U.S., Germany, Netherlands, UK • Funded by a NEH/DFG Bilateral Digital Humanities grant (2008) and NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant (2013) @greenharr
  11. 11. What’s in Emblematica? • Nearly 1400 emblem books • 23,420 individual emblems • Books digitized from the collections of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, HAB Wolfenbüttel, University of Utrecht, University of Glasgow, Duke University and the Getty Institute @greenharr
  12. 12. Collaboration for Digital Special Collections “Any assumption that the construction of digital libraries and digital library services can be left solely in the hands of librarians and technologists is naïve, at least in the domain of digitized Early Modern emblem literature.” —Peter Daly (2002)
  13. 13. Usability Study
  14. 14. Goals of Study • Gain further insights into research practices of humanities scholars • Learn about behaviors of researchers working with Emblematica Online and similar specialized digital archives • Gather input to assess the new functionalities added to Emblematica Online, and determine future functionalities @greenharr
  15. 15. User Assessment Study Interviews • 10 semi-structured interviews • Subjects: graduate students and scholars at University of Illinois, HAB Wolfenbüttel, and Society for Emblem Studies • English, art history, medieval studies, musicology, linguistics UsabilityTesting • 5 usability testing sessions: Protocol developed from interviews • Subjects: Graduate students and faculty members from the University of Illinois • Primarily from departments of English and Theatre @greenharr
  16. 16. “I could imagine sending students to work with an emblem alongside an analysis of a passage. I think it would be interesting with short texts like sonnets, or could be used with Shakespeare’s plays which sometimes have emblematic episodes in them.” —Faculty “The first thing is to have consciousness on how to produce their own research. So it’s training them to be able to use that language, to be able to check the collection, to find information important to their work.”—Faculty @greenharr
  17. 17. • New methods for researching archival content • To look up specific emblems • Expand interdisciplinary research via new sources of content such as emblems “[Emblematica Online] could help students and researchers get across multi-lingual barriers because it is a multi-lingual tradition and visual tradition. It can also help pioneer searches that begin as visual and verbal searches.” —Faculty @greenharr
  18. 18. • Digitized emblem books enable access to archives • Enhance skills in early modern languages, incorporate visual culture and theory “I look at archival sources, account books, buildings, architectural treatises, musical treatises, but this is another sphere, another realm so to speak that could be used to gather more information.” —Faculty @greenharr
  19. 19. “And even just making emblems more available may promote scholarship on emblems. Some people otherwise, like me, who haven’t really researched them or written about them may just poke around in this resource and find something that draws them to it.” “I would return to the point of [Emblematica Online] not being bound by a single national tradition or a single library collection. I think that, in and of itself, may allow people to draw on a broader range of sources than they otherwise would.That can show itself in the scholarship that gets produced on the topic.” @greenharr
  20. 20. UsabilityTesting
  21. 21. Usability: Structure of Site @greenharr
  22. 22. UsabilityTesting on Structure • Finding the link from the opening page to the search interface • Navigation with tabs • How can we make digital collections “readable” so that researchers can navigate them intuitively, almost as well as a book or article? @greenharr
  23. 23. Discovery • Include search fields and limiters similar to other popular humanities e- resources, such as Early English Books Online • A legend to explain the meaning of specialized terms • Use broader, not more esoteric terms for navigation and interface of digital archive @greenharr
  24. 24. Discovery Tools:When Do they Help? “If I kept clicking these narrower categories, and ended up with some kind of unexpected but somehow relevant images, it would be a big perk of using this database.” @greenharr
  25. 25. Interactivity with Content “We’re increasingly attracted to and depend on and have wonderful new opportunities of working with this material in digital formats, and because it does help preserve the actual material books, but it’s nice to be reminded of that materiality in the way it’s presented visually.”—Faculty “When we zoomed in, that was just beautiful, and that you can see hand markings and other pencil markings that would be on there…. For me as a researcher, that matters and I loved the quality of that.” —Graduate Student @greenharr
  26. 26. WhatWorks • Quality of scanned images • Breadth of digitized emblem books and content • Draws content from multiple libraries • Easy access to the digital collections • Uniqueness of the emblem collections and potential for interdisciplinary research use @greenharr
  27. 27. Functionalities to Add • Bibliographic information on editions and multiple volumes • Annotation tool • Improve search interface with more search filter and faceting • Include background information that provides more of a historical context for the works @greenharr
  28. 28. Future Impact of Digital Collections on Humanities Scholarship? • Potential to advance Interdisciplinarity in humanities scholarship • Expand scholarly communications across fields of inquiry • Innovative pedagogical approaches • How could the digital and print complement each other and interact in new ways? @greenharr
  29. 29. Photo Credits • MeasuringTime,” by aussiegall, on Flickr, • brick detail by Grant MacDonald, on Flickr, • "classroom” by Lauren Manning, on Flickr, • "More Bildsten notebooks” by Jonas Lowgren, on Flickr, • "Paris: telescope on EiffelTower //Teleskop auf dem Eiffelturm” by brongaeh, on Flickr, • "Cock the Hammer,” by Kyle May, on Flickr, • "Question Box,” by Raymond Bryson, on Flickr, oxymoron/9647972522 • "38/365 Puzzled,” by Mykl Roventine, on Flickr, • "Puzzle pieces – 2,” byYann, on Flickr, • "Tunnel of black” by Shemsu.Hor, on Flickr, • "Dam Gears” by EduardoTavares, on Flickr,
  30. 30. Emblems “A parvo confunditur hoste” “Glaubens prob” "Verstandt Jovi verwandt" ‘Studio et vigilantia’
  31. 31. Harriett Green English and Digital Humanities Librarian University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign @greenharr