Building for Success?: Evaluating Digital Libraries in the Cultural Heritage Domain

Building for Success?: Evaluating Digital Libraries in the Cultural Heritage Domain

Vivien Petras (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany), Juliane Stiller (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany) and Maria Gäde (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2991-2.ch009


In the cultural heritage field, heterogeneous materials and multicultural, multilingual user groups and their varying needs pose a challenge for information system design and its evaluation alike. Cultural heritage information systems can be evaluated from a system-centric or a user-centric perspective. This chapter discusses evaluation methods in digital libraries with a particular focus on cultural heritage collections and their distinctive features, interaction patterns, and challenges. It describes state-of-the-art evaluation methods illustrating them with examples from Europeana, the European portal for access to digital library, museum, and archive collections, and other projects from within the cultural heritage domain.
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Frameworks For Evaluating Digital Library Systems

All evaluation efforts and experiments have to make decisions with respect to the evaluation object (elements/components to be evaluated), the evaluation aims and objectives, the evaluation context (viewpoint/framework for evaluation), the evaluation criteria and measures, and the evaluation methodology (for data collection and analysis) (Saracevic, 2000). In the research literature, reports on practical implementations of systems and their subsequent evaluations have been accompanied by discussions about general concepts, models, and frameworks that summarize work on a more theoretical level. Some of these general frameworks are described here.

Saracevic (2000, 2004) distinguishes seven approaches for digital library evaluation that address different goals or aspects:

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