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IDC Major Themes


BT DL Review

BT Review: People

Middlesex University

School of Computing Science

IDC convenor: Paul Curzon

Research in Digital Libraries (RIDL)

BT Digital Library Review

Project Overview

broad-scoped review of the digital library system used at BT Laboratories has been conducted by Richard Butterworth. The aim of this review was to lay the foundations of a much more involved investigation into how usability can be designed into an information management system. This six month, internally funded project delivered a review describing the intended use of the library, how that intention is designed for, and the actual use of the library.

As part of a more traditional paper based library BT maintain an electronic library for use by their (primarily) technical staff. The digital library is built from several collections of electronic bibliography information (PROCOS, the ACM digital library, etc.) and gives a consistent interface and searching mechanisms to those collections. The library is updated and maintained in-house by a dedicated team of designers.

The review of the system addressed three major areas:

  1. What expectations BT management have for the library: why was the library implemented? What purposes does it exist to fulfil?
  2. How the designers have implemented the library to fulfil those needs: how the library is structured and by what rationale, what design process is used?
  3. What experience do the user populations have of the library: do they actually use it? if not, why not? does it help or hinder them in their wider work context? Is the library used in ways not predicted by management and the designers?

This review acted as a `pump-priming' exercise for further digital library projects. In particular it led to an EPSRC funded project in collaboration with BT studying usability evaluation techniques for the design of interactive digital libraries.

The project was for six months and was internally funded. It commenced in February 2000 and finished in July 2000.


RIDL staff involved in this project are

Last updated 23 November 2002