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Quality requirements for cultural web sites: the Archives profile

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1 Quality requirements for cultural web sites: the Archives profile
Pierluigi Feliciati University of Macerata (IT)‏ MINERVA eC WP5 (EU)‏ Trieste – IIAS Course October 19th, 2007

2 what about cultural Web quality?
The Web has promoted an increasing proliferation of on-line cultural applications, together with informations and contents coming from any source. Almost every organisation or institution or initiative or person today wants to be on the Web, to mark its existence, to promote itself, to disseminate its contents and its activities all over the connected world. Quality must be ensured for the delivering of cultural content by cultural institutions, but quality is a very broad, generic and subjective concept Quality has particular resonance in the cultural sector because of the importance and value of the material being presented on cultural websites.

3 what about cultural Web?
The increasing importance of web as the principal medium to communicate and to share information, may bring some risks, that cultural professionals must face as a primary challenge As use of the Internet as an information access medium continues to grow, exposure to culture via the Internet becomes more and more prevalent. As the Internet is used more and more for education and research, the quality of online content becomes more and more important.

4 what about cultural Web?
The key messages to create quality cultural web are: Quality must be planned into a website from the start of the project The user is critical – involve him at every stage Relationships with other online resources (interoperability) and with future resources (long term preservation) must be considered With proper planning, and building on the information, examples, standards and guidelines available, creating a high-quality website need not be much more difficult, expensive or slow than creating a lower-quality one.

5 Minerva and Web quality
The european working group Identification of user needs, contents and quality criteria for Cultural Web Applications worked since 2002 : To define quality criteria for the digitised content To encourage the adoption of quality criteria for developing cultural and scientific web applications To support the initiatives launched by the European Commission with the provision of national digital content To encourage training actions on cultural sites, to promote knowledge of multicultural issues all MINERVA tools and handbooks are freely downloadble from the website

6 Minerva and Web quality
Milestones March Beginning of Minerva February 2003 First Deliverable on quality November Handbook for quality in cultural Web sites Improving quality for citizens (en, it) 10 quality principles (ar, ee, en, el, fr, hu, it)‏ 2004 Museo&Web planning kit (en, fr, it)‏ 2005 Quality Principles for Cultural Websites: a Handbook (ar, ee, en, el, fr, hu, it)‏ Minerva eC Dynamic Action Plan – new planning kits for schools, preservation offices, libraries, archives - dissemination of Museo&Web CMS - a new Handbook on User needs and satisfaction evaluation (June 08, Lubljiana)‏

7 what about cultural Web quality?
“A Web site is a collection of information that the user perceives to be a single unit” (W.Arms, Digital libraries, chapt. 2)‏ A Cultural Web Application (CWA) can be considered to be every Web application where the contents deal with cultural heritage, and where at least one of those aims are realised: supplying and spreading cultural informations working as an instrument for education and scientific research

8 interactions... quality process MINERVA model CREATOR contents quality

9 A goal-based planning A cultural entity (person, organisation, institution or a group of different entities joined to build a cultural product)‏ could plan its own website following a goal-based planning method. The Minerva Quality handbook proposed since 2003 a set of possible 12 goals for cultural web: reach transparency on the identity reach transparency on the application have efficiency in the sector networks presentate standards and regulations spread cultural content support cultural tourism offer educational services offer services for scientific research offer services to professionals offer services for reservations and e- commerce promote web communities

10 The 10 MINERVA quality principles
The ten principles for cultural web quality are short and provide little guidance to how they are to be implemented or how to assess whether or not a website complies with them. The ten principles are aimed at cultural websites – those concerned with museums, libraries, archives and other cultural institutions. However, the principles are quite generic and can be applied to almost any website. The Quality Principles Handbook, published in 2004 and freely available in 7 languages, aims to add supporting information to each of the principles.

11 The 10 MINERVA quality principles
A good quality cultural Website must be: 1. Transparent must clearly state the identity and purpose of the Website, as well as the organisation responsible for its management 2. Effective must select, digitise, author, present and validate content to create an effective Website for users 3. Maintained must implement quality of service policy guidelines to ensure that the Website is maintained and updated at an appropriate level 4. Accessible must be focused on the need to serve all members of the user community, even if technologically or phisically disable

12 The 10 MINERVA quality principles
5. User-centred must take in consideration the importance of user consultation, involvement and contribution at every stage 6. Responsive responsiveness is concerned with the ability for the site and the site owners to respond to user questions and suggestions 7. Multi-lingual access to culture should be universal. Language can be an important barrier to access, so there must be considered that the web audience for the cultural material goes beyond linguistic and national boundaries 8. Interoperable web quality interaction is beyond the individual Website, so it must be considered to interface it with other cultural Websites and with other services, such as cultural portals, using standards.

13 The 10 MINERVA quality principles
9. Managed The primary concern of this principle is to ensure that due care and attention have been paid to non-technical, non-cultural issues such as intellectual property rights (IPR) management and privacy. The the ethical and legal aspects of Website provision must be taken in consideration. 10. Preserved The rapid evolution of technologies has the consequence that Websites created today are likely to be inaccessible in the longer-term future Cultural material is likely to be as valuable in future years’ time as it is today, with only few exceptions. This makes a long term preservation strategy a critical part of any cultural Website and a key quality indicator.

14 The quality principles Handbook
The Principles Priority Matrix explores the relationships between the various stages of a Website life-cycle and the ten quality principles. It identifies the most important principles for each stage of the Website life-cycle. The proposed stages are: 1. Website Planning 2. Website Design 3. Content Selection 4. Digitisation process 5. Storage and preservation of digital masters 6. Metadata capture 7. Website implementation 8. Online publication / Go live 9. Ongoing maintenance

15 The quality principles Handbook
Here is the proposed matrix between principles an stages, with 1-3 priority value

16 the Archives profile Archives
The division within an organization responsible for maintaining the organization's records of enduring value. An organization which collects the archives of individuals, families, or other organizations; a collecting repository. (from the SAA Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology)‏ - An organization or part of, public or private, accessioning, appraising, describing and keeping [archival] material and making them accessible to the public (ISIAH standard draft, Glossary,

17 the Archives profile what contents?
records, documents, materials of some media conserved as evidence of facts or because of their historical interest they represent the fixed memory of human interactions, of juridical rights, of our forms of organization, of individual or social lives to ensure public access to such sources of public memory, the archival institutions collect, preserve and create ad hoc finding aids So, archival contents are descriptions, interpretations or reproductions of archives

18 the Archives profile Contents preserved by archival organizations (Archives) connect juridical and administrative field with culture and are therefore visible both to academic world and to civil society. The first archival Web sites go back as far as the dawn of the WWW and UNESCO soon created a world level portal dedicated to the archival sector. There is still great need for the widest possible co-operation among Archives, particularly concerning the diffusion of descriptive standards and good practices. The Web has quickly become a particularly effective tool for Archives’ mission, through individual archives sites, multi- institute informative systems and thematic or territorial portals or digital libraries.

19 the Archives profile specific contents
In Italy, Francesco Bonaini declared 150 years ago that the person who enters an archive must look for institutions (i.e. creators), not for subjects. So, describing archives traditionally is providing information about the records, their creators and historical context and about the available finding aids (needful for a remote or direct access). The ICA Standards ISAD(G) and ISAAR(CPF) guide archivists to create descriptive records, onnect those 3 domains of information (fonds, creators and finding aids) and to provide the necessary tools for browsing among their complex and multidimensional relationships

20 the Archives profile the users point of view
Archives’ live users can be categorized essentially in 2 typologies: Browsers (users with a research plan) and have to browse archives, verifying on documents their theories. They are good finding aids readers, are interested in archives creators, like to browse finding aids, include and exclude search paths, can appreciate the lack of records as useful informations. They know that archives need time. Searchers (users who just look for specific records/informations). They have no theories, want quick results and don’t want to read complex finding aids, would love miraculous fishing tools.

21 the Archives profile archival professional mission
The XXIst century mission of archival professionals seems to be the governance of the transition from the traditional way of giving public access to archives in reference rooms, with the help of archivists: personalised - individual – measured - mediate - analogic -flexible - sacerdotal to the new way, based on ICT, WWW and on international standards: faceless - anonymous - general – measureles digital - remote - automatic - secular

22 the Archives profile future tasks
the digital challenge for Archives professional should be the creation of good models for effective user interfaces and user personalisations in order to: keep as primary the context informations of archival materials help browsing the complexity according to different users requirements/profile preserve the scientific value of informations and of their connections provide training e-tools, thematic paths, references provide a good balance between searching and browsing

23 the Archives profile future tasks
some possible future tasks for archivists could be: collections of good practices in archival ICT user requirements/interaction frameworks thematic panel groups to involve users collecting consolidated solutions to common problems in common contexts (patterns)‏ terminology tools and ontologies to make user interfaces easier exchange practices without feudal protection...

24 Archivio&Web A step further on the Museo&Web package Museo&Web is:
A planning Kit to build a Quality Website, planning its architecture and realising it A basis for the Museo&Web Open Source CMS Intended to be used as a reference model for small and medium sized museums The model was adapted to other categories of public cultural institutions, as libraries, schools and ARCHIVES

25 Archivio&Web Archivio&Web aims to represent a reference model for the archival institutions who are planning to create their own website or update the existing one. For archival institution, again, we mean An organization or part of, public or private, accessioning, appraising, describing and keeping [archival] material and making them accessible to the public (ISIAH)‏ For the technical issues in a web site creation (architecture, communication, managing, accessibility, usability, interoperability and copyright) Archivio&Web refers to the TUTORIAL section of Museo&Web.

26 Archivio&Web The suggested architetcture for an archive website has to be taken as a proposal, not for a strict model One of its aims could be the standardisation of a sort of archival web language, in order to help users to use easily many different sites archival web, even more than the rest of the web, must not be based on stickiness, because our users have to be helped to find their records even out of our site Some items of the website map are presented here in red ink, to mark their importance

27 Archivio&Web HOME PAGE
The home page is the main entrance to the Web site and here the organisation of contents and services and the browsing system must be immediately clear. The structure of the home page should differ from all the others, even if some elements are common to the whole site.The home page should contain: mission statement (The topic of the web site, The main contents of the site, The organisation responsible for running the site, Destined users)‏ logo, part of the “heading” and common to all pages of the site announcements and news of the site

This section should present all the elements of the institution identity, i.e. its mission, foundation, history, activities, the seat or location, its organisation, structure and opening times: Location / building(s)‏ History Officers in charge Current activities Projects Arrangements Publications Opening times Policy and legislative framework

This section should contain the description, analysis and awareness of the holdings available in the archival istitution. The contents could be organised according to level of depth of information: Finding aids and research tools Digital resources Collecting policies Access conditions and requirements

This section should give information on services to the public. It could be possible to offer buy or download services on-line and advisable to list phone numbers and addresses. Care should be taken to ensure that staff are qualified to answer quickly and consistently. Reading room(s)‏ Reproduction Library Education Training Forms Download

This page should show a selection of resources in internet and pertinent to the heritage conserved in the archival istitution, to the user profiles known, to other archival istitutions, etc. EVENTS, NEWS A Web Site is a continuously evolving entity and may need to inform users of additions, be they documents, press releases, announcements, events etc. In many cases, such as publication of laws, regulations, explanatory circulars and so on, informing users is indispensable. Newsletter (keeps users informed on updates on the site and on interesting items associated with the themes of the site)‏

all the distinctive elements of the site identity of the site METANAVIGATION home, site search, contact, site map, guide, feedback... FOOTER Copyright of the site, authorship rights, protection of privacy, release of personal data, dates of creation and of last update, URL, lik to “credits” page MEMBERS AREA AND REGISTRATION for the community of users, may include newsletter, participation in discussion lists, access to reserved sections where users are asked for an identity. Login may require personal informations

33 Thank you for your attention!
The web quality tools The Archivio&Web prototype (IT) may be downloaded in Museo&Web, oteher prototype, CMS .. in MINERVA tools and documents in Thank you for your attention!

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