ID: 110

FELICIATI, Pierluigi; ALFIER, Alessandro


Pierluigi Feliciati is currently the ICT coordinator and a Senior Researcher on Information Science at the University of Macerata (Italy), previously coordinating the National Archives information system for the Italian Ministry of Culture, he is assistant Professor of Information science applied to Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities. His research interests, since its involvement in the MINERVA European working groups on cultural web quality, are focused on cultural web quality, digital repositories management, evaluation methods on Digital Library users’ behaviour and final satisfaction. He was technical coordinator of the Europeana local project for Italy, member of the direction board 2010-2013 of AIDA – Associazione Italiana Documentazione Avanzata, of the Scientific direction board of Italian Central Institute for Archives, of MAG metadata profile group. In 2013 he directed the 2nd International Summer School in Policies and Practices in Access to Digital Archives


Alessandro Alfier is currently an archivist inside ParER, a public service dealing with the preservation of digital records and archives produced by public agencies and cultural institutions. As part of this assignment, he is mainly engaged in the preservation of health digital records, with these tasks: study of documentary forms, analysis of recordkeeping systems, definition of metadata associated with records to be forwarded to ParER’s preservation system.
For the last four years as archivist he has been also the technical coordinator of the project "Una Città per gli Archivi", working on the structuring, normalization and standardization of digital archival descriptions for paper and no paper archives. More recently he has coordinated the team engaged in the development and implementation of the “Una Città per gli Archivi" archival portal, caring especially the issues of archival information output on the web (usability of archival metadata) and user studies methodology


Archives online for users: towards a user-centered quality model including a comparative evaluation framework for user studies

Brief summary:

The paper highlights the theoretical and empirical evidences of archival information access issues for final users. So, after the presentation of a case study of an archival portal implemented with an user-centered approach, the paper outlines some possible strategies and tools to support a more effective design of online finding aids


The paper starts from a survey of the recent scientific literature demonstrating how the traditional paradigm of “heavy” archival mediation has had to come to grips with the new web environment, where users are basically free from any mediation. So from the final users’ point of view, archival informative mediation on the web is suffering much more than what archivists usually accept. The starting point for re-thinking archival mediation is the principle that “output is not input”: the compliance to international archival standards is a necessary condition, but not sufficient to guarantee the usability of archives online.

The paper, before proposing some elements to guide the drawing of a new model (built to ensure quality to online finding aids in terms of user needs), presents the case study of a huge archival portal based on an user-centered approach. In particular, if during the formative fase the portal prototype was tested adopting a user studies research, now with the service active it is possible to compare those data with the web analytics results.

The condition to build up an efficient and sustainable development model, integrating existing international archival standards, is to start from digital library and information science models, combined with user studies methodologies. Moreover, it will be necessary to build up a shared comparative evaluation framework for archival user studies, to facilitate new research projects in this area.

To conclude, the expected impact of this new model will be measurable both at instrumental level, offering the basis to develop toolkits and guidelines, and at professional level, contributing to enrich the set of skills for future archival information mediators

Scientific contribution:

The paper will contribute to archival science by:

a)     giving a critical  state of the art about finding aids issues in the web environment, based on the last contributions at international level;ì

b)     proposing the necessity to re-think the traditional archival techniques about the creation and communication of finding aids, coming back to the original spirit of ICA international standards: centrality of final users access to archives, reduction of the mediation played by archivists, distinction between information input and its output, etc.

c)      forecasting future research lines towards the definition of useful models to guide the development of quality online archival displays, integrating ICA international standards 


archival description, archival mediation, archives online, international archival standards, online finding aids, quality models, usability, user needs, user studies, web access