Share in our discoveries across three projects as we work to provide the first intellectual access to our hidden treasures relating to work and labor in early 20th Century New England, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair and its period, and Boston local TV news.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Usability?! Performance Improvement Project

In Boston this summer? Interested in participating in a usability study to help us with functional evaluation of the public website for Moving Images 1938-1940: Amateur Filmmakers Record the New York World’s Fair and Its Period? Our Website is coming along in the capable hands of developer Maria Passarotti and media cataloger Brian Graney. It’s time to see how it will work for researchers.

Meagan Doyle, a Simmons GSLIS student in the archives concentration in library science, plans our usability study and, pending approval from the Institutional Review Board, will be in the Usability Lab with eight subjects in the third week of July.

Donna Webber, the Simmons College Archivist, is the faculty instructor for the Archives Field Study course, helping us along with Rong Tang, director of the Simmons GSLIS usability lab. Training in usability tools was with Jon Gray, below on left.
Meagan Doyle graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where she worked with Kat Stefko at the Bates College Archives. Next semester she will take a course on library evaluation taught by Naresh Agarwal. We stopped in to see Prof. Agarwal for guidance on usability testing for our Website. Summer is pleasant on campus, and the faculty assistance has been cheerful.
Doyle has established a one-hour program for participants, who will sit at a keyboard and interact with the current version of the project Website. After brief orientation, subjects will carry out a set of tasks that will help us to see how the site structure is understood by researchers. The Fairfilm site will offer collection finding aids, item-level metadata, and selected digital surrogates of 16 mm. and 8 mm. films. Can you find them? What about the information on the New York World’s Fair in 1939-1940? And how about resources for cataloging?

As Meagan Doyle suggests, “As more libraries and archives make their material available on the web, it is important for LIS professionals to have the skills necessary to evaluate these services.” Hands-on in the lab with Morae software recording interactions between users and incipient library resources is a great way to learn. We look forward to what the study reveals.

Participants will be recruited from GSLIS classes as well as archival repositories in the area, and will be offered the incentive of a $25 gift card in appreciation of time and effort.


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