The Digital Library North project has been designed with a number of different research contexts in mind. The following pages outline these contexts in detail.
Digital libraries are useful mechanisms for the storage, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage information. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a UN specialized agency, defines cultural heritage of indigenous people, in part, as language, art, music, dance, song and ceremony, and documentation of those areas (WIPO and Indigenous Peoples, n.d.). Cultural heritage information can include knowledge of traditional place names, hunting grounds and waterways and is often collectively labeled ‘Traditional Knowledge’ (Tyson 1999; Asmah 2010; White 2006). Research suggests that Canadian First Nations groups support documentation of cultural knowledge in order to pass it on to future generations, and that libraries have been identified by elders as “the most important custodians of documented traditional knowledge” (Maina 2009: p.281; Lyons 2010). According to Cathy Cockney, Manager of the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre (ICRC), provision of seamless access to the above resources within the ISR community digital library would prove useful.
Christiansen (2003) argued that Inuit users use the Internet and Information and Communities Technologies (ICT) in many different ways. For example, they use videoconferencing and other applications to connect with elders and to support community activities, related to health and wellness, education, culture and language, economic development and government information (Castellano 2001, Molyneaux & O'Donnell 2009).
It is critical to investigate the information needs and information-seeking behaviour of users to inform the design and development of digital libraries. Previous researchers (Kulthau 2004; Wilson et al. 2002) proposed models of such behaviours. For instance, Ellis (1989) identified eight steps: starting, chaining, browsing, differentiating, monitoring, extracting, verifying and ending. Similarly, Rosenfield and Morville (2002) stressed the importance of understanding users’ information-seeking behaviour because users make use of different strategies like searching, browsing and asking humans for help in accessing information resources. Thus, different strategies have implications for the design of digital libraries for a given community. This study will investigate these issues for ISR community members.