Mobile technology and cultural heritage organisations:
: an examination of current practice (with special reference to the West Midlands)

  • Tracey Dawn Williams

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science


The purpose of this dissertation is to determine whether, why and how mobile
technology is being used by archive services, and how this compares with the
approach taken by libraries and museums. Focusing on the geographic area of the West Midlands, and using a mixed-methods approach of a survey questionnaire and semi-structured case study interviews, the research objectives are to: identify the extent and nature of take-up of mobile technology; obtain opinions from practitioners of the perceived and potential usefulness of the technology within the cultural heritage sector; determine why and how mobile solutions have been adopted; compare and contrast approaches within the different segments of the cultural heritage sector; and recommend good practice
for future mobile developments by archive repositories. The study found that the level of mobile activity is low compared with organisations’ engagement in social media and other online services. There are comparable levels of activity across the cultural heritage sector but significantly less is published about
archives and mobile technology. Lack of capacity, staff expertise and financial
pressures are limiting factors for mobile engagement but partnership, external
funding and re-purposing existing data offer potential for future projects.
The study found that broadly speaking: museums are most likely to focus on
‘edutainment’ experiences for visitors; archives are most likely to be concerned with resource discovery by intending visitors; and libraries are most likely to be active in enabling mobile transactions for remote users. However, collaborating to develop services blurs these simplistic boundaries. Any mobile services must have a sound strategic base in user requirements, anticipated demand and service priorities. Mobile services are not stand-alone but one element in a range of access points and should be integrated into service provision. As such, a mobile-optimised website should become a minimum standard level of service
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorSarah Higgins (Supervisor)

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