To help conceptualize possible functionalities of the DPLA front-end, Audience & Participation workstream co-chair Nate Hill, Mike Barker, and I developed a host of use cases—potential scenarios that cover a variety of users and how they would use the resources the DPLA might one day offer. The use cases were not intended to define the DPLA and its functions; rather, they were designed to open up discussion and offer possibilities for how some of the library’s front-ends might operate.
There were three central themes that each case addressed: 1) accessibility, 2) methodology, and 3) information consumption habits. The themes established the overarching framework of how the DPLA could potentially address each use case with respect to access impediments and different user needs. The cases ranged from traditional scenarios of leisurely reading to more academic, specialized research. The diversity of cases illustrated that users may not only seek textual content, but also other forms of media and tools to cultivate their personal interests and lifestyles. For example, beyond serving as a content provider and database, the DPLA could potentially operate as a social network—an interface through which library patrons could connect and interact with one another.
One of the most important aspects in creating these use cases was understanding how the “digital ” aspect of the DPLA could be understood and utilized within the platform. The DPLA is intended to be more than just a collection of content, and the use cases demonstrated the varied approaches to both preserving and democratizing cultural and scientific heritage that are currently undertaken by our nation’s libraries. The potential functionalities of the DPLA, as articulated through these use cases, will help inspire the front-end design of the platform to be user-friendly and accessible.
The use cases will be featured and discussed at the second Audience & Participation workshop, which will be held in Baltimore, MD on July 27, 2012 at the EnochPratt free Library.
The use cases are available at http://www.natehill.net/dplausecases/index.html.