AM08 2008 START Conference Manager    

Remote Users in Our Midst: Insights from the Archival Metrics Project

Magia Krause

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


This poster describes the development of two survey instruments by the Archival Metrics Project. The first instrument, an online finding aids survey, was designed to capture users' evaluations of the ability to search, browse, navigate, and find information in Web-based archival access tools. The second, a website survey, asks similar questions, but focuses more on design features and the ability to accomplish certain tasks like communicating with reference staff. The surveys were pilot-tested by a total of six repositories providing us with data to assess the quality of the questions and the methods employed to increase response rates. Preliminary results from these surveys reveal important differences between users of archives recruited through reading room visitations and those who posed online reference requests. Many of the users in the latter group discovered the website through a search engine, were using the resources for the first time, and had difficulty finding everything they were looking for. Overall, respondents to these surveys had strong opinions about the functionality and navigability of online archival resources, providing feedback to aid in the survey development process. Insights from these surveys provide a clearer picture of how remote users of archives might differ from those in our reading rooms and how we, as archivists, might better serve them. The survey instruments are intended to assist repositories with an on-going evaluation program providing archivists with a suite of tools to assess the effectiveness of their web-based resources.

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