General Access to Digital Data

Two types of access will be analysed in this study:
–    Access to information posted on the websites of the institutions. The objective is to understand how the users navigate through the different web pages to access information they need, regardless of the subject.
–    Access to digital collections.

In retrospect, it appears that the Google Books project has served as a catalyst for debate on the massive document scanning that promised universal access to information. Facing economic and logistical realities, libraries, museums and archives quickly realised that they did not have the financial means to engage in an intense race to digitise without significantly compromising the quality of their services. Gradually, the idea of mass digitisation has given way to more targeted digitisation projects with heritage concerns or scientific objectives.

The objective of this issue is to define the specific needs of users in terms of documents available in digital form. The following points will be discussed:
–    The main topics of interest to users.
–    The main types of documents sought.
–    The features offered by search engines.
–    The concept of serendipity, that is to say the unexpected discovery of documents. This approach involves understanding how users perform their research.
–    Access to digital editions.