Amber L. Cushing (School of Information and Communication Studies, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Benjamin R. Cowan (School of Information and Communication Studies, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 11 September 2017



The purpose of this paper is to investigate how non-research users access and use digital surrogates from archival collections via mobile walking tour app. Much of the existing literature that discusses outreach for digitised archival collections in libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) reports examples of single outreach events or discusses outreach broadly, without critically exploring the purpose and context of outreach as an activity. Further, these reports generally aim to introduce collections to potential researchers, amateur or professional, without consideration of how the collections could be used for purposes other than research, by non-researchers. The study aims to expand understanding of non-research use of digital surrogates contextualised by mobile technology.


Utilising an exploratory approach, Walk1916, a mobile walking tour app of Easter Rising sites in Dublin was first developed. It contextualised digital surrogates from archival collections, along with an audio and a textual description of the image, with augmented reality (AR) and geolocation technology. In all, 15 semi-structured interviews were then conducted to understand how contextualising digital surrogates with these mobile technology features influenced participants’ perceptions of the digital surrogate. Interview transcripts were transcribed and analysed via memoing and coding, using nVivo for Mac 10.2.2.


Findings from interview data suggest that contextualising the digital surrogate with AR and geolocation features allowed participants to perceive of the digital surrogate as enhancing their understanding of the Easter Rising, enhancing life and allowing for increased control of their experience.


This furthers work in the area of how individuals value digital surrogates, in different (non-research) contexts. These findings provide groundwork for the future study of non-research access to and use of digital surrogates held in institutional collections so that LAMs can utilise collections efficiently for a wider user base.



Amber L. Cushing and Benjamin R. Cowan (2017) "Walk1916", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 5, pp. 917-933

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: https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-03-2017-0031



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