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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

Designing a bilingual virtual archival experience: the Museum of Russian Culture collections at the Hoover Institution Archives
Polina Ilieva, Hoover Institution, USA

Demonstration: Your Colleagues - 1

The Hoover Institution Archives recently concluded a joint project with the Museum of Russian Culture in San Francisco, funded by an NEH grant to process and microfilm the Museum's most significant archival holdings. This project was concluded with the launch of a bilingual English/Russian web site that has created a unique virtual archival space.

Founded more than 50 years ago, the Museum of Russian Culture is one of the major repositories of Russian émigré documents, and also contains materials related to the history and culture of Russia.

I will demonstrate how the major task of creating an authentic Russian language web experience ? more than just a simple translation of the English site - was accomplished. This paper will analyze and show-case some of the challenges and solutions in designing a bilingual web experience, including, but not limited to technical, cultural, quality assurance and usability testing, copyright issues, use of a bilingual search engine, site promotion in the USA, Russia and other countries, management of reference questions and user feedback issues.

I will show how an elaborated virtual archival experience was created that included in some way all the components of a ?brick and mortar? archives: finding aids, some documents (photographs), reference materials (biographical notes), search, and reference questions options. The site serves both serious researchers and the general public, including the families and descendants of Russian émigrés. Historians can use the online register to easily locate the exact box and folder they need for a specific topic. The site presents numerous vintage photos and background information to hold the interest of those simply curious about the culture of Russia Abroad.