Supporting Information Access and Sensemaking in Digital Cultural Heritage Environments

  • Paula GoodaleEmail author
  • Paul Clough
  • Mark Hall
  • Mark Stevenson
  • Kate Fernie
  • Jillian Griffiths
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 416)


User-centered design and evaluation of a system to improve information access and assist the wider information activities of users in cultural heritage digital collections is described. Extending beyond simple, standalone information seeking and retrieval tasks, the system aims to enhance content ‘findability’ and to support users’ cognitive processes of sensemaking, learning and creativity, by embedding tools for information use at the point of access. A generalized user interaction model derived from requirements analysis is shown to be compatible with models of exploratory interaction and information seeking support, illustrating potential for a single system that can adapt to diverse use case scenarios. Controlled laboratory evaluations, whilst demonstrating support for a variety of information tasks, also reveal variance in information seeking behavior by task type and user profile, indicating a need for a system that lets users select their preferred interaction mode in context. Interactions with the path creation functionality highlight potential for sensemaking and creativity support tools to be embedded within digital library collections.


Exploratory search Information foraging Sense-making Interactive IR User-centred design Evaluation 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement n° 270082 relating to the PATHS project.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Goodale
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul Clough
    • 1
  • Mark Hall
    • 1
  • Mark Stevenson
    • 2
  • Kate Fernie
    • 3
  • Jillian Griffiths
    • 3
  1. 1.Information SchoolUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  3. 3.MDR PartnersLondonUK

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