Museums and the Web 1999

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Published: March 1999.

Abstracts

A Model to Support Literary Research Collections on the World Wide Web

Colleen Phelan , City University, United Kingdom
Micheline Beaulieu , University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

http://www.rmplc.co.uk/orgs/dickens/dickenshouse/index.html

Session: Enabling Scholarly Research on the Web

Although the past few years have witnessed a proliferation of widely varying museum presentations on the WWW, research collections with few exceptions remain an under-utilized resource resulting in lack of access to in-depth material for subject experts, novice learners and everyone in between. Results of a user-centered evaluation of an experimental hypermedia prototype, based on The Pickwick Papers collection at the Dickens House Museum, London and designed for literary researchers, have led to the derivation of a generic model of a user-interface that can, so far: 1) facilitate access to otherwise unavailable materials, 2) support heterogeneous information needs, and 3) provide a design framework as an aid to development of literary research collections for the Web. The issues discussed concern user suggestions for levels of system content, screen design and navigational routes as well as a much-needed separate interface for novice users. The latter, which consists of a separate layer of introductory-level content , can support subject novices as well as other researchers who lack basic foundation in one subject area(s) whilst possessing proficiency in another(s). Illustrative examples emphasize design issues of indexing and hypertext linking, authored and reproduced text, image presentation and documentation, as well as special problems of 19th C. text presentations.