With a new baby in the house, I've been taking a break from work and blogging. I do occasionally get a change to hop on the laptop when the baby is hanging out in his bouncy chair. But it is a changed world.
I did come back to work for a few days at the end of July. The L&C Visual Resources Curator Margo and I got a chance to talk to L&C's team of three tenure track art historians about ways that the library's Visual Resources center could help them. It was an interesting conversation, and a few themes emerged.
The personal collections of images that they use to create lectures are of great interest to them. One of the art historians keeps his collection on the network using ARTstor, the other two keep their images in folders on a PC. They all seemed interested in services we could provide them to help build these personal collections--like scanning/metadata creation and/or training students to do so. They mentioned that sharing images between other scholars was sort of a catalyst for professional/social contact. I tried to nudge them toward Web 2.0 approaches like Flickr for organizing/sharing their personal images.
As you might expect, they don't differentiate between institutionally-licensed image collections and those freely available on the web. One of their favorite sites for acquiring images was the Web Gallery of Art. They described ARTstor as useful and a sort of "Walmart" for images and differentiated between its broad stroke approach and more niche websites that focused on more specific areas of art.
Creating physical places where students could discuss and critique art was a potential priority for them and they thought the Visual Resources space could play a role in this. They also expressed a desire for someone with expertise in "visual literacy" as this was a concept that emerged for the Art Department in the recent accreditation visit.
They asked for someone to help them navigate the technical complexities of delivering high quality images in the classroom, especially regarding configuration of computers and projectors. They also wanted help with preparing images for submission in professional publications.
In the era of slides, I would guess that art historians would be lobbying for the institution to purchase slides for the institutional collection to support their courses. Now, the institutional collection isn't as important to them. The two "collections" that are important are their personal collections and publicly-available, network-level collections. Increasingly, the library's job is to facilitate creation, use and navigation of these two types of collections, not to build an organizational collection of images akin to a slide or book collection.
We do have an institutional collection of digital images to support the curriculum on MDID; it's comprised of some licensed images and some scanned images. Likely, we'll be exposing this collection in the ARTstor platform so that it can be incorporated in the critical mass of content and functionality that resides in that network-level collection.
The two publicly available, network-level collections that we have built here are accessCeramics and L&C digital collections.