Luca Domenico Artuso
Library, Istituto Giapponese di Cultura in Roma. Japanese Collection Librarian

Visual Exploration of Edo Period Scrapbooks: Enhancing Discoverability through Information Visualization Application to Digitalized Heritage

As objects assembled from diverse ephemeral materials, scrapbooks are bibliographical items wealthy in information that can be considered a material metaphor for the archive. In fact, scrapbooks' compelling materiality rise similar challenges regarding the discoverability of their often ignored unique contents.

This paper tackles the discoverability issue of digital Edo period scrapbooks with the aim of furthering scholars' and librarians' engagement with these materials. In particular, it proposes an innovative vizualisation system that can improve scrapbooks’ accessibility, using recent advances in the field of Information Visualization (IV) applied to Digital Archives. In particular, to demonstrate its main assumptions, this paper focuses on two scrapbooks collected at the Cambridge University Digital Library will be take: Fumoto no Chiri - (1828) and Shinobugusa - (1843). Both of them preserve materials as mundane and ephemeral as tickets for Edo Kabuki plays, or shop advertisements, and so on, testifying a specific period of Edo history in which the quotidian became ”an object of historical inquiry” (Zwicker, 2009).

On the basis of the caleidoscopic nature of these materials, this paper highlights the results of a speculative application of four models of Information Visualization to digital scrapbooks: thumbnail, timeline, map, and network. Basing its methodological framework on the information-seeking procedure outlined by Shneider (1996) and Whitelaw (2012), this paper comparatively discusses positive contributions and limits of each of the selected models in improving the scrapbooks’ discoverability. Eventually, a hybrid approach, based on Information Literacy and Information Visualization contaminations, will be evaluated and proposed to enhance access of digital scrapbooks.