Presentation on theme: "How do we know what they want? A2A and user evaluation of archival resource discovery Sarah J A Stark Regional Liaison Co-Ordinator, A2A Public Record."— Presentation transcript:
How do we know what they want? A2A and user evaluation of archival resource discovery Sarah J A Stark Regional Liaison Co-Ordinator, A2A Public Record Office Collection Description Focus Workshop 5, 30 January 2003 www.a2a.pro.gov.uk
How do we know what they want? A2A (Access to Archives) and its background Monitoring usage Evaluation Outcomes Know what they want!
A2A: the background Until recently: Access to archives through paper finding aids (calendars, indexes, lists or catalogues) or discrete local/web databases Researchers generally had to travel to repositories to view finding aids Paper catalogues not necessarily indexed Electronic catalogues had to be searched one at a time
A2A: the background English strand of the UK National Archives Network First online presence in 2000 A2A programme led by PRO, HMC and BL Funded by HM Treasury, Heritage Lottery Fund, partners and contributors Over 220 repositories involved so far Links to contact details Over 4 million catalogue entries so far
A2A: the catalogues Generally multi-level (not collection level) 21 archive categories: –Institutional archives Local government and the courts Hospitals The churches Businesses –Personal papers (notably scientists and politicians) –Family and estate archives
A2A: the catalogues A wide range of subjects including (for example): –Information on people and places –Commerce and industry, 18 th -20 th century –The British in India and elsewhere –Local government and administration in London and the English counties, 16 th -20 th centuries More content projects, 2002-2004 Online at www.a2a.pro.gov.ukwww.a2a.pro.gov.uk
A2A: usage figures May 2001 – December 2002: 1,267,731 searches –average almost 63,400 per month 2,739,935 catalogues viewed –average almost 137,000 per month Database updated regularly
Optional online new user form: 3250 returns, 2000-2002 (11 April) –65% using archival catalogues for the first time –43% new to archives –79% family historians, 27% local historians, 15% academics –40% aged 51 or above
A2A: monitoring Optional online new user form: 701 returns, April-Dec 2002 –57.5% using archival catalogues for the first time –41.4% new to archives –86% family historians, 33% local historians, 13% academics –69% aged 51 or above
A2A: evaluation More than passive monitoring Focus group members sought, summer 2001 A2A Formal and Virtual Focus Groups established, autumn 2001 Participation in NANURG initiative, December 2001
A2A: evaluation A2A Formal Focus Group –15 members from user groups: Family history (AGRA, FFHS) Local history (BALH, VCH) Academics (SCONUL, BAC, BSHS) Library and archive users (BRA, user group) Teachers Black and Asian Archives Working Party –Experience with archives and internet –Chair from A2A Steering Group –2 meetings held since 2001
A2A: evaluation A2A Virtual Focus Group –12 members who communicate by email: PRO Friends BL readers New members sought! –Experience with archives, varying experience of internet –2 questionnaire rounds since 2001
A2A: evaluation National Archives Network User Research Group (NANURG) –A2A, SCAN, Archives Hub, AIM25 –6 evaluation sessions in December 2001: London, Manchester, Edinburgh Including postgraduates, library users, 6 th formers, family and local historians –Final report issued, March 2002 Individual feedback (email, online form)
A2A: outcomes of evaluation In-house and NANURG recommendations broadly in line Feedback on look and feel, functionality, and information Site enhancement early 2002 –Cleaner look and feel –Search options rearranged –Contextual information better laid out
A2A: outcomes of evaluation Further site enhancement planned for 2003 –General –Special Interest Search (indexes) Why is it not being used? Does it help academic researchers?