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A Socio-Technical Perspective of Museum Practitioners' Image-Using Behaviors


Purpose: The purpose of this project is to study how art museum practitioners use current image-indexing practices and services to retrieve images from museum collections. The investigation examines several areas, including image needs, information-seeking strategies, information queries, search functions, display formats, and human-computer interaction.

Design/methodology/approach: The six participating museums are in Washington, DC, and the states of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio. The investigator interviewed 35 museum practitioners in various departments at the six museums about their image sources, search behaviors, and use of images.

Findings: Wide variations and internal conflicts exist among curators, IT staff, slide librarians, registrars' offices, educational staff, faculty, and photographers. Museum practitioners' knowledge and expertise should inform the design and presentation of digital images of museum collections as well as the images' relationships with the construction of digital museums.

Originality/value: Digital technologies have pushed museum practitioners to initiate organizational changes to accommodate the effects of technology. Museums' digital images and their relevant information are the foundation of the digital museums. Museums must incorporate a re-examination of their roles in the digital age. An ideal digital museum is not just an online version of the museum, if that is achievable, or an online catalog of museum collections with pictures. It is also a resource that must be founded upon museum practitioners' expertise and professional practices.


Library and Learning Resources

Keywords and Phrases

Digital libraries; Image processing; Indexing services; Museums

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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