Navigating the Web Archives: A Study of Users' Understanding of Context

by Rackley, Marilyn

Abstract (Summary)
Web archiving is a rapidly growing area of electronic records archiving, with third-party service providers developing comprehensive Web archiving solutions. Currently in the United States, there are two major Web archiving services being used, the Internet Archive’s Archive-It and OCLC’s Web Archives Workbench. These two services are based, respectively on the “technocentric” and “archival” approaches to archiving Web sites, underlying which are specific assumptions about the nature of capturing, managing, and providing access to this type of archival material.

Focusing on how these approaches affect the access and presentation methods supported by Archive-It and the Web Archives Workbench, this paper describes a study conducted at the North Carolina State Archives and Library that tested the effect of the two methods on users’ understanding of contextual information. Study participants’ responses indicate that the “archival” model may provide users with a better understanding of a record’s context, but that generally users are confident about their ability to understand the records regardless of access method. Nevertheless, despite these high levels of confidence, participants in this study did not necessarily have a good understanding of the nature of materials captured and archived directly from the Internet. The results of this study also demonstrate that users would like to have contextual information built into document displays, whether in the form of a header containing appropriate metadata or in the documents themselves.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Christoper Lee

School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:archives cataloging metadata electronic data conservation and restoration internet united states


Date of Publication:07/09/2007

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.