There are many reasons institutions choose to digitize and display historical newspaper collections online but if you ask a collection owner to state the top two reasons, 9 times out of 10 you will hear these two words: preservation
. The preservation goal is achieved through the digitization, OCR, and the text conversion process. Once the physical pages are scanned and the images are converted to text, the content is safe from the ravages of temperature change, humidity, and wear over time. Accessibility is accomplished in part by displaying this digitized text through software such as Veridian. But how do you know if anyone is finding and using your digital library?
The first step in improving accessibility could be the Google Indexing enhancements discussed in the previous article. Beyond finding your collection we think greater accessibility comes down to patron engagement. How much do you know about who is using your site and why? If your answer is “Not much”, or “Very little” you may want to consider posting a short survey on your site to find out who is visiting your site, how they found you, and why they are there. Once you know a bit about your patrons you can encourage them to keep using your site by featuring relevant content from your collection on the home page, for example.
You may also want to consider crowdsourcing activities such as User Text Correction, if you haven’t already done so. User Text Correction is mutually beneficial to the collection itself and to the patrons who engage in the activity. The quality of the collection is continually improved through the text correction work of those who register. The patrons gain a sense of satisfaction that they are helping to improve a collection of historical papers they find meaningful and, possibly even more motivating, they can see their user names published on the text correction leader board on the home page of the collection. These benefits might seem obvious, so it seems important to point out that as a collection owner you can also communicate with these registered users. By talking to your patrons you might gain some insight on how to feature or promote the collection to others and you might even be able to encourage these advanced users to share their experiences with others through email or social media channels.
Did you know there is a Comments feature in Veridian? Adding Comments to your Veridian collection could be another step toward greater accessibility and patron engagement. With this feature users can attach comments to pages or articles. Comments can be used as a method for registered users to communicate with the site administrator and with other patrons, cultivating a virtual community of users. They also empower users to enrich the collection by contributing their own knowledge.
If you would like to know more about User Text Correction, Comments, or marketing your collection, please contact us