This article analyzes the design and provides a preliminary evaluation of an experimental finding aid incorporating social interaction created by the Finding Aids Next Generation Research Group at the University of Michigan. It discusses the development of the Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections, an online access tool employing Web 2.0 technologies and evaluation of the first six months of its deployment (January-June 2006). Using Web analytics, an online survey, semistructured interviews, and content analysis of comments, the researchers explore visitors' initial reactions, and their uses of and interactions with this new type of finding aid. The study also offers insights from other disciplines and considers how social navigation features might enhance accessibility to archival materials. Initial findings suggest that enabling direct and indirect interaction among visitors and archivists, collaborative filtering, and other Web 2.0 features might make archival materials more accessible and enrich the traditional finding aid.

This content is only available as a PDF.