Cross-cultural usability of digital libraries

Anita Komlodi, Nadia Caidi, Kristin Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


The advent of digitization has enabled individuals, institutions, and communities to create and disseminate digital representations of their cultural heritage in digital libraries (DL). These digital collections are increasingly broader in scope and reach, spanning geographical and cultural boundaries. They serve users from their originating culture and often also play the role of cultural ambassadors by serving users from other cultures. While cross-cultural use of DLs is present, little research is available on the influence of culture as it pertains to the design and use of DLs. In this paper, we define cross-cultural usability guidelines for DLs and apply these to the heuristic evaluation of six "national" DLs. Results of a usability evaluation study of five of the DLs are also reported. The national DLs were selected based on their mission, funding model, and originating organization and they all represent their respective cultures. Results of the evaluation show that current DL UIs and content do not serve international users very well. These results were confirmed in a user study in which users were asked to browse "national" digital libraries from countries other than their own. Based on our results, we propose guidelines for the designers of DLs to support their international users and truly serve as "cultural ambassadors" for their originating countries. While the results of this study were gained through the evaluation of DLs using the Latin alphabet, the general design guidelines are proposed for DLs of all cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-593
Number of pages10
JournalLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)

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