Socially grounded user studies in digital library development


  • Ann Peterson Bishop
  • Bharat Mehra
  • Imani Bazzell
  • Cynthia Smith



In order for public libraries to ameliorate the "digital divide" in their local communities, this paper presents a socially grounded and participative process for facilitating access to networked digital information for marginalized groups. Through the Afya Project, a participatory action research approach to digital library design is taken that targets the barriers in access to health information and services experienced by African American women in the community. SisterNet, a local grassroots social network of African American women committed to addressing physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health issues, is a partner for the Afya Project. SisterNet has played a significant role in recruiting African American women as community action researchers to participate in data collection and analysis related to the development, implementation, and assessment of Web-based resources. Use scenarios in socially grounded user studies are being employed as a key methodological technique to design culturally appropriate and usable Web-based health information services that will help African American women in the community achieve their vision of better health.




How to Cite

Bishop, A. P., Mehra, B., Bazzell, I., & Smith, C. (2000). Socially grounded user studies in digital library development. First Monday, 5(6).