Sebastian Chan, Powerhouse Museum, Australia
In mid-2006 the Powerhouse Museum launched a new on-line catalogue (http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database). Inspired and informed by the explosion of Web2.0 sites and services, the new collection database aimed not only to pro-vide a 'better,' more usable museum catalogue, but also to explore ways to leverage user interest and community knowledge.
Internally called OPAC2.0, the new catalogue put more than 70% of the Museum's collection on-line. In order to operate effectively, OPAC2.0 collects detailed information about search terms and object relationships as well as tagging and controlled vocabulary usage patterns. With these and other evaluation tools built in to the structure of the site from day one, OPAC2.0 has been conceptualised as an ongoing project requiring continual enhancements and usability modifications.
This paper examines the OPAC2.0 project and its impact on the Museum. It presents initial usage patterns, search trends, and social tagging trends over the first 6 months of operation. In particular, the paper explores the impacts of opening up and the driving of traffic down the 'long tail' of the Museum's collection; tag structures submitted by users using the folksonomy engine; and the internal Museum changes that have come about as a result of unprecedented user access and, importantly, user input and engagement.
Keywords: Web 2.0, evaluation, user analysis, folksonomy, user engagement, databases, search