Consulting manuscripts online: a qualitative study of three potential user categories

The authors carried out a qualitative study as part of the Europeana Regia digitisation project to establish the needs and expectations of people consulting medieval manuscripts online. Discussion panels were set up for three separate categories of potential readers: researchers, secondary school teachers, and the general public. The study underlined the high level of interest among researchers, and correspondingly high expectations. They did not want new functions unavailable on websites already in operation, but rather an improvement in performance and better provision of information. Secondary school teachers thought the project had the potential to be an excellent teaching tool, but that it needed to offer access on specific themes. The general public showed less interest in the project overall, as those questioned would only ever have a passing interest in consulting such a resource, mainly for the illuminations. However, older panel members were more likely to be interested in the various techniques for making manuscripts and to endorse the project.