I would be cautious about displaying the information off to the
right hand side of the screen.  While it is theoretically a nice
idea the emphasize the intellectual order over the physical
containter, most users tend to view things in practical terms.

During my study of user interactions with finding aids, I found
that in the case where container information was off on the right
hand side of the screen, users generally had more difficulty
finding the containter number and type.  I do not recall if I
reported this in publication, but it was a distinct result.

Whatever side you place the containter information, I would say
it would be more important to repeat the headings often enough to
make sure that it is clear what those numbers mean.  For some of
the finding aids my participants worked through, it was obvious
they did not know what the numbers meant until they scrolled up,
sometimes numerous pages.  In some cases they consequently
interpreted the numbers incorrectly.




Christopher J. Prom
Assistant University Archivist and
  Associate Professor of Library Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
19 Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801

phone:  217.333.0798
fax:    217.333.2868
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

On Thu, 30 Jun 2005, MicheleR wrote:

> Hello all --
> We are currently debating the knotty question of whether to have our
> finding
> aids display the container information down the left side of the page
> or
> down the right side of the page.  The left side is more traditional,
> and
> many of the implementations I've reviewed on the web have chosen this
> approach.  On the other hand, as we all know, it is the intellectual
> structure of the material itself, not the container, that is the
> primary
> organizing key of a collection; this is re-emphasized by the structure
> of
> the EAD document which of course is built upon the divisions and
> subdivisions of material, not on where it's physically housed.
> So I am wondering: how many of you have chosen to display container
> information on the right, and how many of you have chosen to display it
> on
> the left?  Has anyone received feedback (pro or con) from researchers,
> other
> libraries, etc?  If anyone has published finding aids to the web that
> have
> the container information on the left, could you share the URL so we
> can
> take a look?
> Many thanks --
> Michele Rothenberger
> Syracuse Unversity SCRC