PATHS - Personalised Access to Cultural Heritage Spaces

PATHS is creating a system that acts as an interactive, personalised tour guide through existing digital library collections.
PATHS will enable and support:

  • personalised paths through digital library collections
  • suggestions about items to look at and assist in their interpretation,
  • users' knowledge discovery and exploration.

Significant amounts of cultural heritage material are now available through online digital library portals. However, this vast amount of cultural heritage material can also be overwhelming for many users who are provided with little or no guidance on how to find and interpret this information. The situation is very different in museums and galleries where items are organised thematically and users guided through the collection. PATHS aims at making it easier for users to explore cultural heritage material by taking them along a trial, or pathway, created by experts, by themselves or by other users. The PATHS system will offer suggestions about items to look at and assist in their interpretation. Navigation will be based around the metaphor of a path through the collection. A path can be based around any theme, for example, artist and media (paintings by Picasso), historic periods (the Cold War), places (Venice) and famous people (Muhammad Ali). Users will be able to construct their own paths or follow pre-defined ones.
PATHS, which started in January 2011 and will run for 36 months, is co-funded by the European Commission's FP7 Programme under Digital Libraries and Digital Preservation area and is coordinated by University of Sheffield (UK) with MDR Partners (UK). The project consortium consists of six partners from five countries.

PATHS and Europeana

Like other cultural heritage portals, access to content in Europeana is currently based on hand-crafted catalogues which use specialised terminology. PATHS will make use of automated techniques to mine cultural heritage sources online for the purpose of building ontologies and significantly enhancing existing domain knowledge and vocabularies. Since PATHS is a research project, it will focus on two core languages, English and Spanish, to demonstrate that the technologies being developed are general. The services developed by PATHS will be demonstrated to the cultural heritage and research communities by using data from the Europeana and Alinari websites. The goal will be to evaluate the services in field trials with users and to evaluate the potential of the services for implementation in other cultural heritage websites and digital library portals. The PATHS project will make use of content from Europeana and will contribute to the Digital Agenda for Europe by creating new ways for users to participate in their cultural heritage.

Project website

www.paths-project.eu

Project Contacts

Project Coordinator
Mark Stevenson (USFD)
m.stevenson@dcs.shef.ac.uk

Project Scientific Director
Paul Clough (USFD)
p.d.clough@sheffield.ac.uk

Project Manager
Kate Fernie (MDR)
kfernie@tiscali.co.uk