Knjižnica Filozofskog fakulteta
Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
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Impact of a national library's cultural heritage in the digital environment

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Šalamon-Cindori, Breza. (2017). Impact of a national library's cultural heritage in the digital environment. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Information Science.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij informacijskih i komunikacijskih znanosti) [mentor Živković, Daniela].

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Abstract

The aim of this doctoral thesis is to examine the role of a national library as a heritage institution that is responsible for presenting national cultural heritage kept in its holdings in the time of well-developed web and ICT technologies. The theme of this doctoral thesis was studied in depth in the available literature and research was conducted concerning the operation and provision of services in 50 European national libraries, with special focus on the activities of the National and University Library in Zagreb in the digital environment. The examples of the best management practice in European national libraries, then the determined benchmarks confirming the quality, and the ranking of the website of a national library, as well as on the author’s assessment of the conclusions resulting from the research, will be used as a basis to define the features of the best management practice for national libraries that could be used to contribute to the promotion of national cultural heritage in the digital environment. Applying this practice in a national library can contribute to visibility and communication, as well as the sustainability of the national cultural heritage not only in national libraries, but also in other heritage institutions preserving the materials comprising national cultural heritage. Research conducted for the purposes of this thesis includes 50 European national libraries, based on their membership in the web service of the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), also known as The European Library (TEL). Out of the libraries included in the research, the activities of the National and University Library in Zagreb in the digital environment were given special consideration. It has been noted in the literature that the role of national libraries in presenting cultural heritage has become indispensable. Its role of the guardian and proponent of the national cultural heritage, has been established as one of its most important roles in the new digital age. Moreover, in the last two decades, libraries worldwide and national libraries in particular, have become active in the digital environment, launching their websites and web portals. By developing their websites and digitising their holdings, national libraries promoted cultural heritage resources on their websites in different ways, including digital collections, digital libraries, virtual exhibitions, and other similar services. However, over time it became obvious that not all national libraries have responded to the needs and challenges of the modern era with equal success, i.e. they have not been equally successful in their activities in the digital environment, including the method of presenting cultural heritage in their holdings. Using the content analysis method, this thesis will first focus on and establish the online presence of European national libraries, i.e. identify their official websites. In this process it was established that all European national libraries covered by the research are present on the Internet, meaning they have official websites. In addition, part of the research of the websites of 50 European national libraries included an analysis of whether they offered the services promoting national cultural heritage, where these services include digital libraries and virtual exhibitions, and, finally, whether the websites of European national libraries subject of research were translated into English or some other language used in the country of the national library included in the research. It was established that almost all, i.e. 94 per cent of European national libraries have either digital holdings or a digital library, while only 6 per cent of the libraries subject of research have none of these services, meaning that at least digital collections, as well as digital libraries, have become an essential content of the websites of the European national libraries. It was then established that, compared to the libraries which do not have them, a greater part of the analysed libraries do pay attention to creating virtual exhibitions, i.e. 58 per cent of libraries have virtual exhibitions on their websites, while 42 per cent of analysed libraries do not offer virtual exhibitions. It should be underlined that among virtual exhibitions there are significant differences in quality, visual solutions, and functionality. An analysis of the language used on the libraries’ websites, which can to a considerable extent also be used to disseminate the available contents about a national library, containing the descriptions of the collections, virtual exhibitions or digital libraries as part of the service of The European Library, or the European digital library Europeana, showed that a significant percentage of libraries, i.e. 82 per cent have their websites translated into the English language, while only 18 per cent of the libraries subject of research do not have an English translation. Moreover, the analysis of the translation of the contents of European national libraries into some other languages used in the country of a national library showed that only 18 per cent of libraries have their websites translated into more than one language. From the examined literature it is evident that national libraries have accepted the new possibilities and management models. These are dynamic 2nd generation web services, also known as social media services or Web 2.0. For the purposes of further research the aim was to establish how many European national libraries used more advanced possibilities for online activities. The intention was to establish which services in this digital age, alongside the obligatory websites and portals of national libraries that are mostly static in character, have been accepted and are put to use. In addition, the aim was to establish which ones of the analysed services, modelled on the libraries that are the most active, should be incorporated in the online activities of national libraries. Therefore, on the sample of 50 European national libraries present on the web, and by examining their online contents, 14 social media services were analysed, 9 of which are social networking services: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, TripAdvisor, Flickr, Google+ and LinkedIn, and 5 services which can be categorised as social media services according to their features, that include: RSS, blog, podcast, online forms on the libraries’ websites, such as an online form Ask the Librarian or an online form Contact etc., and online chat. The aim was to establish the number or percentage of the social media services and social networks that are used by the analysed national libraries, as well as the popularity of the analysed services among libraries. Furthermore, the intention was to analyse how many of the examined social media services and social networks are used by the respective European national library, thus facilitating identification, on the one hand, of the libraries which can be considered to be the leaders in the use of the 2nd generation web services, i.e. Web 2.0, and on the other, of those libraries that have failed to recognise the possibilities offered by these services. The intention was to focus particularly on establishing the status of the National and University Library in Zagreb, on a scale ranked from best to worst libraries. The research has confirmed that a number of European national libraries have risen to the challenge and recognised the possibilities created by the social media for online activity, primarily on social networking sites. The majority of European national libraries use the social network Facebook, and according to the use of other analysed services this social network is followed by: online forms, YouTube, Twitter, TripAdvisor, the RSS channel, blog, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, online chat, and podcast, while the fewest libraries use Pinterest. In the case of social networks, the research has demonstrated that the majority of analysed European national libraries are present on Facebook, followed by, according to the frequency of use, YouTube, Twitter, TripAdvisor, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ and Pinterest. The results show that the greatest number of analysed libraries provide 8 services, meaning 57 per cent of the total number of 14 analysed social media services. The majority of analysed European national libraries are present on only three social networks, i.e. 33 per cent of the total number of social networking sites, which confirms that European national libraries do not use a great number of social networking services for their activities. European national libraries that stand out by providing 10 or more social media services, i.e. 71 per cent or more of the total number of analysed services are: the National Library of Ireland, the Royal Library – National Library of the Netherlands, the National Széchényi Library (Hungary), the National Library of France, the National Library of Scotland, and the British Library, and can therefore be considered leaders in providing social media services. For the national libraries with only one social media service, it was found that it was either activity on Facebook or the interactive form on the library’s website. European national libraries distinguished by providing more services on the social networks, i.e. 78 per cent or more than the total number of the analysed services include the Royal Library – National Library of the Netherlands, the National Library of France, the National Library of Scotland, the National Széchényi Library (Hungary), and the British Library. Only one of the analysed European national libraries is not present on any social network. It is noticeable that libraries with the greatest number of services on the social networking sites correspond to the national libraries that provide the greatest number of social media services. It was established that the National and University Library in Zagreb provides 8 services, or 57 per cent of the analysed social media services. Different tools can be used to measure and evaluate the quality and popularity of any existing website in the world, such as Alexa and SimilarWeb, which are well-known in literature in the field of information and communication sciences, as tools for analysing libraries’ websites traffic statistics. The aim of this thesis was to establish the ranking of the 50 analysed European national libraries, out of the total number of global websites, according to the Alexa and SimilarWeb performance benchmarks. These tools were then used to establish the ranking of each European national library’s website on 12 March 2016, i.e. to register the assigned standing of the analysed European national libraries in the overall global ranking of websites that are monitored with Alexa and SimilarWeb. This method was used to establish the ranking of the analysed libraries according to their website’s performance. Even though these are different tools, the intention was to establish whether there are any similarities in the ranking of the websites of the analysed libraries according to their respective benchmarks. Special attention was paid to the ranking of the website of the National and University Library in Zagreb, which was then juxtaposed with other analysed European national libraries with similarly ranked websites. Since the ranking of a website should be perceived as inversely proportional, after having conducted the research it was established that the smallest world ranking number, meaning the best ranking of a website according to Alexa, is held by: the Swiss National Library, the National Library of France, the National and University Library of Slovenia, the British Library, and the Central National Library in Rome. The National and University Library in Zagreb is ranked in 25th place. The best website standing of the libraries included in the research according to Alexa is held by the: National Library of France, the British Library, the National Széchényi Library (Hungary), the National Library of Scotland, and the National Library of Norway. In the global rankings of their websites, these libraries hold a relatively similar position range, as established with the previously mentioned Alexa. Furthermore, it was established that among listed libraries, the libraries previously ranked among the best using Alexa, again appear as the best using SimilarWeb. According SimilarWeb, the National and University Library in Zagreb ranks in the 25th place. Compared to the global rankings of the websites of European national libraries analysed previously using Alexa, it holds the same position on the global websites ranking. The comparison of the data on the global ranking of the websites of European national libraries according to the tools for measuring the traffic statistics and website quality Alexa and SimilarWeb, demonstrates that both tools show an almost identical standing of European national libraries on the global ranking chart of their websites, out of the total number of websites they monitor. The aim was to use the assigned positions in the world ranking of the websites of European national libraries covered by research, that were obtained using Alexa and SimilarWeb, and correlate them with the 14 analysed social media services and online services promoting national cultural heritage offered on the websites of European national libraries. The research has confirmed that European national libraries that provide fewer social media services have poorer presence on the social networking sites, or provide fewer services promoting national cultural heritage, such as digital collections, digital libraries and virtual exhibitions, and the translation of their website into English or some other languages. According to both tools for monitoring network traffic, Alexa and SimilarWeb, their websites’ global ranking is considerably below par, while the libraries that provide a greater number of the analysed services have a better position on the global ranking list. In other words, the global ranking of European national libraries’ websites is better for the websites providing more services, which improves their position on the overall ranking chart of all global websites. For the purpose of examining the correlation between the online activity of national libraries and social networking services they provide, and for the purpose of drawing the conclusions about the quality of their operation from another perspective, Quintly online social media analytics tool was used to establish the number of followers of the respective national library on the social networks. The research has shown that national libraries with a very small total number of followers on the analysed social networking sites have a lower ranked website, while the libraries with a large total number of followers on the analysed social networks hold a better position on the global websites ranking list. Furthermore, the aim of the thesis was to pay special attention to monitoring and analysing online activities of the National and University Library in Zagreb. The monitored parameters include its presence and activity over time, from the static to active online services. Using the internal and external webometrics tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, as well as other tools to measure the activities on social networks, an assessment was made of the online services provided by the National and University Library in Zagreb that can contribute to the promotion and impact of national cultural heritage in different ways. The focus of attention was primarily on following the posts concerning the materials from the holdings of the National Library, including different types of resources such as written, art, music, cartographic, and other types of materials. In addition, posts about the heritage digitisation projects, Croatian, European or global, and posts about virtual exhibitions, etc. were monitored. Special attention was paid to the activities of the National and University Library in Zagreb in the digital environment and the contribution of the social media services, primarily the social networks, in communicating the information about its mission, services, and particularly the materials and contents that comprise national cultural heritage. By comparing the static and dynamic online services, including the services for promoting national cultural heritage, which the National and University Library in Zagreb provided over time, conclusions have been drawn about the possibilities of having a greater impact of cultural heritage in the digital environment. It was established that considerable differences exist in the impact or readership of certain posts that belongs to cultural heritage on the portal of the National and University Library in Zagreb compared to social networking sites and accounts – the number of visits and reach of the same posts on the Library’s website is significantly lower than on the social networks, primarily on Facebook. For example, the impact of features posted on Facebook, compared to static publications on the Library’s website, in terms of readership and visibility, is almost seventyfold higher. Apart from Facebook, it was established that the possibilities for disseminating the content in general, including cultural heritage resources, due to the dynamic character of social networks, is quicker and more efficient on other social networking sites, and their impact is by far greater. The reason for this is that news directly reaches the users of a social network who follow the activities of the National and University Library in Zagreb on this social networking site, unlike the contents on the Library’s portal, which the users have to find by themselves – whether by searching, by chance or regularly following the website, which requires more efforts from the user than a social network. The necessity of connecting the static websites and web portals of national libraries with the dynamic services they provide on the social networking sites has to be emphasised. The end goal of this thesis was to consolidate the conclusions drawn from all conducted analyses, and based on them formulate guidelines and propose some properties of the management practice for a national library as a heritage institution in the digital environment, which should and which can contribute to the process of communicating and having a greater impact of different types of materials a library preserves in its holdings – written, art, music, cartographic, and other types of materials that comprise the national cultural heritage. All research conducted for the purposes of this thesis demonstrates that apart from presenting materials and contents constituting national heritage on the websites of national libraries, as well as in the digital libraries and virtual exhibitions that are mostly static in character, and having them translated into one of the world languages, it is essential to use the possibilities offered by advanced web technologies for their presentation, which also include social media. The contribution of this work mainly implies being active and expanding on the social networking sites, in combination with the management of cultural heritage resources on the websites of national libraries. It should be taken into account that in the overall abundance of the global digital environment, it is essential to meticulously select the contents whereby a national library will arouse the interest of digital users. Thus, a meticulous selection of the contents, including the contents comprising cultural heritage, and their communication and dissemination, will contribute not only to the visibility of the library but also to the quality of its online activities. Another contribution of this thesis is that the use of as many as possible different social networking services, and being open to providing more advanced online services in general, such as the Web 2.0 services, is a guarantee of visibility and quality of activities of a national library in the digital environment, at the same time having an impact on the standing of the national library’s website in the global ranking of websites. The choice of social networking services that will contribute to the promotion of cultural heritage depends on their features, as well as the properties of the type of material desired to be brought to wider attention. Accordingly, Facebook can be used for any type of material. For mainly visual materials Instagram can be used; it is a social network that is increasingly developing and becoming widespread among users, and which has prevailed over Flickr and Pinterest. YouTube is the most suitable environment for promoting cultural heritage in the form of videos. Twitter, the quickest social networking site with a vast user community, is suitable for disseminating all cultural heritage resources by posting links. Cultural heritage can also be promoted on TripAdvisor as cultural tourism resources, thus brought closer to an even greater number of readers, i.e. the public that is not drawn to library services as such, but to tourism services. LinkedIn is primarily a social networking site targeted at the business community, and also a favourable environment for disseminating cultural heritage materials and resources. Finally, Google+, whose possibilities have so far been underused by libraries, can also be a platform for increasing the impact of cultural heritage. Based on the conducted and described research, it is possible to formulate guidelines for the operation of libraries, or any other heritage institutions that keep cultural heritage materials in their holdings, with the aim of online promotion of cultural heritage in the best possible way, so that it could become accessible and visible to a wider user community, and thus permanently preserved for the future generations. The author proposes an outline of the cultural heritage cycle from the real to the digital environment, which includes the holding of cultural heritage, providing access to cultural heritage, communicating cultural heritage online and on the social media in order to increase its visibility and impact. The expected results include an increase in the knowledge about cultural heritage, the development of a number of creative services, the motivation to study and learn, and, finally, creative use of cultural heritage that will be applied and have impact on various educational, tourism and economic activities. Proposed activities should contribute to the sustainability of cultural heritage. In the other outline, the author presents the methods of operation and management of libraries, as well as other heritage institutions in the real and in the nowadays inevitable digital environment, and the process of promotion of cultural heritage in each of these environments, including their interrelations. It has been stated that the services aimed at the promotion of cultural heritage, such as digital collections, digital libraries, virtual exhibitions, etc., can contribute to the greater visibility of cultural heritage, as well as having the website translated at least into the English language, and some other languages. It has been underlined that the impact of cultural heritage and the user community in the real environment is significantly smaller than in the digital environment due to their static properties, unlike the dynamic properties of the online environment, and especially of the social media. The author believes that the services for the promotion of cultural heritage should also be developed for the users of mobile telephones, i.e. in the form of applications for mobile devices that will additionally increase the impact of cultural heritage of the respective institution. Operation of a heritage institution in the real environment is regarded as a linear business model, while the operation in an online environment is described as a circular, web-based business model. In conclusion, and based on the integrated knowledge about the methods of operation of the European national libraries in the digital environment, the author proposes the guidelines for the operation of libraries and other heritage institutions in the digital environment. These guidelines have been formulated in 15 points, and the author considers the following is required: 1. In the times of highly-developed ICT, apart from the real environment, operation should also be conducted in the digital, i.e. online environment; 2. Defining the strategy for operating in the digital environment; 3. Establishing an editorial team that will be responsible for the development of services and supervision of online contents; 4. Defining and developing online services to present cultural heritage; 5. Translating online services presenting cultural heritage; 6. Selecting the representative contents showcasing cultural heritage for online promotion; 7. Determining the services for presenting cultural heritage on the social media; 8. Selecting the tools for monitoring and measuring the efficiency of online operations – on the institutions’ websites and on the social media; 9. Selecting and developing the services for promoting cultural heritage for the users of mobile telephones; 10. Determining and ensuring the possibility of a backup of the cultural heritage contents and services; 11. Determining and providing for the preservation of the cultural heritage contents and services on the website and the social media; 12. Selecting and developing creative services that will encourage the public to study, learn and creatively use cultural heritage; 13. Investing in the quality and appropriate IT equipment for the purposes of the editorial team responsible for the maintenance and development of online services; 14. Investing in the training of the staff responsible for the operation in the digital environment; 15. Monitoring the operations of similar libraries and other heritage institutions to establish the examples of best practice that could be used as the basis for improving the operation, and the development of new services. Having regard to the characteristics and tasks of a national library as a heritage institution, the proposed methods of operation and the guidelines can be adopted as a model for the operation of not only national libraries, but of any heritage institution, which can contribute to the visibility and communication. It can have an impact on the general public, and it can contribute to the sustainability of the national cultural heritage.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: national library, National and University Library in Zagreb, cultural heritage, cultural heritage institution, national library website, Social Media, Web 2.0, social networks, website traffic rank, communication of cultural heritage
Subjects: Information sciences
Information sciences > Librarianship
Departments: Department of Information Science
Supervisor: Živković, Daniela
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij informacijskih i komunikacijskih znanosti
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2017 09:14
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2019 23:15
URI: http://darhiv.ffzg.unizg.hr/id/eprint/9236

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