Evaluation of Digital Cultural Resources in Glasgow

Posted on December 22, 2016 | in Library & University Collections, Museums, St Cecilia's Hall | by


The revamped Kelvin Hall in Glasgow was the destination for the Scottish Digital Cultural Heritage Evaluation Network’s winter symposium, on December 12 and 13. Now the home of much of the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum collection and the National Library’s Moving Image Archive, the Kelvin Hall is becoming the ultimate community space, continuing to host its leisure facilities amidst a burgeoning collection of museums objects. The juxtaposition, in fact, seemed particularly quirky to me, as I was sitting in a lecture theatre next to the 5-a-side courts I used to play on as a boy!

The thrust of the network, and thus the conference, was really about measuring the unmeasurable: how to find out the impact of digital discovery of museums objects beyond obvious KPIs such as analytics data and website hits. We are generally able to get this surface information quite easily, but it is much harder to quantify the social or legacy impacts and outcomes of putting cultural content online.

A number of institutions put forward papers highlighting their varied attempts to solve this problem. We became acquainted- thanks to Marco de Niet  with the ENUMERATE framework which Europeana have integrated into their evaluations. It measures impact through a combination of quantifiable data, surveys and questionnaires. Laura Gottlieb at the imminently-opening Swedish Museum of Performing Arts, meanwhile, demonstrated the MIQS (Mixed Interactive Quality Study) toolkit, which used very useful approaches (again, largely survey-based) to this evaluation.

A much-photographed Europeana-run workshop put us in the shoes of museums decision-makers to think of different ways of looking at impact (they spoke of five lenses- utility, learning, legacy, existence, and community), to really consider how tools deliver outputs, outcomes, and ultimately impacts. I hadn’t really thought, before about the social cohesion, potentially leading to health benefits, that a digital collection could bring, but a strong case was made for it! Here’s the report.

It’s important for us to consider these questions, especially just now, with the re-opening of St Cecilia’s Hall upon us. The digital surfacing of the content is expected to be an integral component of the museum’s presence, so it’s important that we get it right. It’s also good to know that we can talk to the Hunterian- in the light of their recent major overhaul- about their experiences of a major change project.

Scott Renton, Digital Development

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