Bassi-Veratti Collection

An access and discovery interface to a digitized archival collection

2012 – 2013

The Bassi-Veratti Collection website provides digital access to the complete contents of the archive (672 letters, diplomas, poems, and other documents) of Laura Bassi (1711-1778), a scientist, professor, member of the Bologna Academy of Sciences, and one of the first female professional scholars. The web site was an international collaboration between the Stanford University Libraries (SUL) and the Italian Biblioteca comunale dell’Archiginnasio di Bologna (Archiginnasio).

The biggest design challenge I faced when beginning work on the Bassi-Veratti Collection website was how to give scholars access to individual items in the detailed archival inventory, or finding aid, while maintaining the context the finding aid is intended to provide (and traditional scholars expect). When my work on this project began, the idea of providing search and browse features to locate items within a digital collection was commonplace, but presenting digital items within the context of a traditional finding aid was new ground. In addition, my user research told me that the site also needed to be accessible to scholars more adept at working in digital environments, who might prefer to approach the collection by means other than the finding aid.

The completed (bilingual) website achieves these goals by providing access to the Bassi-Veratti Collection through both a traditional search and browse discovery interface and a digital version of the archive’s finding aid. The complete finding aid is represented through background and content inventory sections. The latter section enables the user to first see the organization of the content inventory at the top-level (series) and then to drill down through through the sub-series, boxes, and folders. At the folder-level, each item in the folder is shown, in order, as a thumbnail, which is linked to an item detail page with item metadata, pages in the item, and access to the other items in the folder. The more standard discovery interface enables the user to explore via means other than the content inventory: search, browsable collection highlights, and a map view of places associated with the items in the archive.

My Role: I did user research, user experience design, visual design, and some front-end programming.

More Information

Bassi-Veratti Collection Link
Completed Bassi-Veratti website.

Video and Blog Posts

Video Introduction Link
A short video (5:30) that describes the background of the project and highlights of the website.
Stanford University Libraries blog post Link
Aster, Cathy. "Bassi Veratti Digital Collection Website Launches." Stanford University Libraries website. March 19, 2013.
Stanford University Libraries blog post Link
Sussman, Sarah B. "Stanford Libraries bring life of physicist Laura Bassi to the web." Stanford University Libraries website. March 18, 2013.