PATHS final report

Kate Fernie

Throughout the three years of the project PATHS has researched, developed and evaluated techniques to improve the presentation of digital library content to end users.  The team have worked to develop understanding of user profiles, needs and requirements and to bring this user focus into the development cycle. 
One of the major achievements of the Paths project has been to demonstrate the practical benefits and technical feasibility of enriching the metadata for cultural heritage collections as a means of improving content retrieval, supporting innovative discovery and exploitation.  This addresses a critical issue for cultural heritage institutions across Europe who hold vast quantities of quality content in digital libraries that are currently never found unless explicitly sought. Positive feedback from users involved in the evaluation of the PATHS prototypes confirmed that the project achieved its objective of developing tools that add value to digital libraries and enrich user experiences. The interactivity offered by PATHS tools and the potential for expert and non-expert users to use content to create narratives, tell stories and make personal collections has the potential to have real impact on the development of the next generation of cultural heritage services.

Throughout the three years of the project PATHS has researched, developed and evaluated techniques to improve the presentation of digital library content to end users.  The team have worked to develop understanding of user profiles, needs and requirements and to bring this user focus into the development cycle.  Specific research objectives included: 

  • Developing a system that enables users to navigate cultural heritage collections by using pathways, connections between objects and tools that visualise the topic content of the whole collection.
  • Advancing techniques to analyse and enrich the content metadata available for information retrieval and allowing relevant background information to be offered.
  • Working with users to identify their requirements and to evaluate the system to inform the development of a user-driven information retrieval system.
  • Developing tools to enable users to create pathways and to make connections between content items that are of interest.
  • Establishing an exploitation plan for PATHS results

PATHS has worked with Europeana and Alinari 24 ORE in exploring the potential to enrich content metadata to demonstrate the potential to offer users recommendations and contextual information.  The natural language processing techniques developed in PATHS have had a significant impact in the user interface by enabling novel browsing and improved information discovery. The knowledge developed through the project will be invaluable in the development of the next generation of portals. 

The final project report summing up our activities over the three years of the project is available for download here .

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