Title:Collection Effects: Examining the Actual Use of On-line Archival Images
Authors:Marc Ladouceur, Brian Dawson, Marcia Rak
Publication:MW2009: Museums and the Web 2009

On-line collection access is a mainstay of museum offerings on the Web. Museums offer a wide range of collections, including digitized representations of art, natural history, material culture, and historical archival photographs. Virtual access has become a vital means of both enabling collection access and facilitating outreach beyond the physical museum. But how much do we know of our audiences, and how do they make use of such collections? What are their motivations and behaviours?The importance of evaluating on-line collection offerings has been noted in several recent studies. A clearer understanding of just how and why on-line collections are used is vital if we are to appropriately plan enhancements to collection access, such as visitor tagging, visitor contributed content, and other Web 2.0 features.In examining the use of the CN Images of Canada Gallery, an on-line archival collection, this paper explores the practical application of analytical approaches that may be broadly applicable to on-line collections as a whole. Making use of common data sources, the case study creates a rounded picture of how a collection is actually used by visitors. The findings should be broadly usable as a basis of comparison with other collections and their use, as institutions prepare for the next iteration of their on-line offerings.