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User Evaluation of the Montana Natural Resource Information System (10 Jul 2003)
A crucial question for undertaking any type of evaluation is the cost and the benefit of conducting it. Costs for the type of survey can be roughly estimated as one hour per user interviewed, not including travel time. Apart from the benefit of user feedback about the Web site, another by-product turned out to be user education. With every contact made, positive steps were taken in a variety of ways:

Users realized that NRIS Web developers cared about them and about making their information gathering as efficient and productive as possible.
Users were asked about parts of the Web site of which they were previously unaware, thus providing a positive educational opportunity.
Users frequently commented that they knew they should be using a certain portion of the Web site, but that they had not taken time to explore on their own. Participating in the survey helped initiate such use.

The in-depth, person-to-person user survey may not be valid for the evaluation of all types of digital collections, but it does seem to have validity for those sites where the users may be part of the collection building process and where the overall goal is to serve as a comprehensive clearinghouse for a specific kind of information.
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