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SAA 2006 Poster: Communicating Context in Online Collections

I promised a number of people I spoke with at the SAA 2006 conference that I would post information from my poster. I have finally added it on a page [1] here on the blog.

For those of you who didn’t make the conference (or didn’t make it to my mini talk in front of my poster on Friday morning), my poster showed the results of my research into how the web interfaces to various digitized archival collections handled the issues of original order and communication of context. I was very interested to see to what degree websites for digitized collections were doing a good job helping the user understand the relationships between the records as well as the context of the records.

Most people asked me which was my ‘favorite’ – and my answer was always that I liked something about each of the sites I showed on my poster. A perfect site would have the collection overview that the Library of Congress American Memory – Browse Collections [2] page shows, the convenient search result resorting option shown on the Greene & Greene Virtual Archives [3] search result page, the item details display option provided on the Irene Kaufman Settlement Photograph Collection [4] ‘images with full record’ search results page, the clear communication of hierarchy shown in the Yoshiko Uchida example of the GenView MOA2 document viewer [5] and a rich use of audio, images and in-place historical context as is done on the Gilder Lehrman Wartime Love Letters [6] site. The big answer I found from all of this was that planning ahead was key. If you keep metadata related to the order of the records being digitized, it gives you the opportunity to do good things with that information when building your interface.

On the ‘Poster page’ [1] have included a list of links to the websites I used as my examples, my key points and a thumbnail of the poster with a link to download a BIG version (you will need to scroll around a good bit – but you should be able to read it in the large version).

If you have questions – just let me know. I can always be reached via email at jeanne AT spellboundblog.com.