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Musicologists who study medieval music manuscripts were up until recently required to travel to the libraries and museums where these documents or their fragments are physically held. Increasingly however, digital image archives provide resources that allow scholars to conduct much of their research through both the inspection and manipulation of digital images. These images effectively serve as proxies for each physical document they display, and their use as research objects in their own right is bringing about transformative effects for the way research in medieval musicology is conducted. We discuss the results of a qualitative workplace study conducted to understand the transformative effects of digital images on research practice and to identify emerging requirements that might inform the design of more novel digital image archive systems. We show how qualitative fieldwork provides insight into how researchers actually use systems in order to inform incremental improvements to prototypes and novel designs.
Date of Conference: 4-7 Jan. 2012