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choose a path through the exhibits, whether this is one of the suggested routes or a self-
designed route that can be created on the fly by automated querying of collection metadata.
The five main tours have an audio commentary giving a general overview and inter-
pretation of the collection which is delivered through headphones. Although there is
necessarily some overlap between the commentaries, the exhibition manager ensures
that each theme is clearly linked to the commentary in order to provide tours which are
sufficiently different to maintain interest for a visitor taking multiple paths through the
exhibition. Itineraries are mapped onto the floor plan, with individual exhibits highlighted
and marked with an icon showing that further textual information and/or multimedia
(e.g. recordings of the texts) is available. Users can call up more information using the
stylus, and peruse it at their leisure before restarting the general commentary.
Icons also display whether the individual exhibit appears in supplementary material
offered for sale by the library (for example, a glossy catalogue of the exhibition, books on
the author(s) and postcards/bookmarks showing a reproduction of the exhibit). Users can
order these items from the library shop using a `single-click' facility, although the sale is
not confirmed until the user has had a chance to view their choices and completes the
transaction either through the PDA or by more traditional means.
As digital photographs are prohibited within the exhibition, the library also offers digi-
tised images which can be ordered during the visit.The library plans to use funds raised
from the sale of electronic or printed merchandise to help towards the cost of digitising
the remainder of the manuscript collection.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Mobile access technology provides visitors with potential access to a rich array of infor-
mation during their visit. Other technologies (electronic publications, for example) can be
used to offer products for consultation either before or after the visit.This feature makes
mobile devices ideal for deployment as museum guides, not only being available during
the visit but also providing flexibility and freedom of choice as regards what paths to fol-
low during a visit.This flexibility can be used to create a bridge between various types of
institutions (museums, libraries, archives) and other organisations from outside the memo-
ry/cultural heritage sector.
For most visitors these technologies are familiar.Visitors are increasingly likely to come
equipped with devices they feel comfortable and adept in using. Some visitors may not yet
be owners of such devices, and institutions need to address their needs also.The size of this
class of visitor should continue to decrease.To ensure inclusion, institutions should, wher-
ever possible, be able to provide a sufficient number of devices to meet the needs of these
Mobile access devices can feed visitors' expectations.This might be especially appealing
to those visitors who prefer to read from their cellular phone or PDA instead of following
printed labels and guidebooks, or participating in guided tours.This mode of access is
increasingly popular with the younger generation. Use of mobile access devices provides
visitors with various learning styles or with disabilities a means to access content specific
to their needs. These technologies can provide and use position-dependent information
Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
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