Digital Collections: If You Build Them, Will They Visit?

Session Type: Presentation

Session Description
How do your cultural heritage organization’s digital collections fare in search rankings? Assuming your collections have newspapers from 1915, will a Google search for information about the “Battle of Gallipoli” return results? At the April 2012 Bibliothèque nationale de France International Newspapers Conference, one of the authors examined web traffic rankings and search results for digital newspaper collections at libraries around the world. Both traffic rankings and search results showed that content in cultural heritage organizations’ digital collections dwell in Internet obscurity (

In this session we re-visit these rankings and results, examining what it means for a digital collection to be successful. Is success only about page views, unique visitors, and bounce rates? If, paraphrasing Trevor Owens (, the mission of a cultural heritage organization is more than random users flipping through the pages of its digital collections, how does one encourage and measure community engagement? Is crowdsourcing “the single greatest advancement in getting people using and interacting with library collections” (Trevor Owens)?

Session Leaders
Frederick Zarndt, IFLA Newspapers Section
Brian Geiger, California Digital Newspaper Collection
Alyssa Pacy, Cambridge Public Library
Joanna DiPasquale, Vassar College
Robert Stauffer, Hoʻolaupaʻi Hawaiian Nūpepa Collection
Meredith Palmer, DL Consulting

View the community reporting Google doc for this session.

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