Elina Leblanc - Bibliothèques numériques enrichies et participatives : utilisateurs, services, interface

Organized by: 
Elina Leblanc
Elina Leblanc

Jury :

  • Mme Anne Baillot, professeure des universités, Université du Mans (Rapportrice)
  • M. Laurent Romary, directeur de recherche, INRIA Paris (Rapporteur)
  • Mme Anne-Marie Turcan-Verkerk, directrice d’études, EPHE (Examinatrice et présidente du jury)
  • Mme Elena Pierazzo, professeure des universités, Université Grenoble Alpes (Directrice de thèse)
  • M. Hervé Blanchon, maître de conférences, Université Grenoble Alpes (Co-directeur de thèse)


As part of the development of the Fonte Gaia Bib digital library, an international French-Italian participative project, this thesis focuses on one of the most difficult problems of the digital humanities: the identification of their audience(s) and needs. In most cases, the services surrounding digital libraries are built on the basis of the requirements of their creators, and according to the presumed needs of users. Users are nothing more than the projection of the needs and characteristics of the creators themselves. This strategy has shown its limitations and an approach based on the needs of end users is still marginal. The question of users arises all the more in the context of the development of participative services. Such services take up the codes of the Social Web and transform users from consumers to actors. In the fields of digital heritage and scientific libraries, the study of participative services from the user's point of view is still rare and not very specific, even though this type of service raises the question of the place of users in this type of digital resource, and seems to call into question the profession and missions of librarians.
In this context, this thesis defines a user-centred design method applied to the case of a participative and scientific digital library. We place particular emphasis on the service modeling and mock-up stage, as heuristic processes that aim to give substance to a theoretical model and that have a central function in a project life cycle and workflow. Through this method and the case of Fonte Gaia, we propose a study of the participative services of a digital library based on public engagement. This participative model is still not very present in the world of digital heritage and humanities. But it would make it possible to define services in accordance with users' needs and librarians' missions. This study of services from the perspective of public engagement leads us to make a strict distinction between cooperative and collaborative services, which do not involve the same audiences and are not represented in the same way within a digital library.
This thesis thus examines an interaction, that between services and their users; a model, that of public engagement; and a method, that of user-centred design applied to heritage digital libraries. These different aspects are closely linked: public engagement is a particular type of interaction between a user and a service. It allows us to push user engagement with written heritage to its extreme and to define different degrees of participation. This is made possible by modeling a participative library through user-centered design. The latter is not only our method of studying services and public engagement, using questionnaires, interviews, participatory modeling workshops and a hackathon; but also a research object in itself, as a method rarely used in heritage digital libraries. These different elements of our thesis allow us to analyze a digital library from a new perspective, going beyond the image of a data-providing library to that of a library oriented towards its users and encouraging their engagement with the written heritage.