Moderator: Mark Pompelia, Curator of Visual Resources,Rice University
ARLIS/NA Ohio Valley Chapter
VRA Great Lakes Chapter
This session presented various resources available through the OhioLink Digital Media Center (DMC). OhioLink has established itself as provider of text resources to 77 Ohio institutions, and now is incorporating a database of digital images into the system. OhioLink can also be considered a uccessful model that may be emulated to provide similar services across the country.
Charly Bauer, OhioLink Assistant Director of Library Systems - Digital Media, began with a general introduction to the OhioLink consortium and the technical and administrative aspects of the DMC. Text services include a central catalog, research databases, and an electronic journal center. The DMC will add digital resources, such as images, audio, video, and GIS data. OhioLink members and outside sources supply content, with 40,000 AMICO images and 3,000 Saskia Ltd. images already acquired. The images databases include materials for a variety of disciplines; in addition to art and architecture, there are images for the study of science, biology, medicine and geospatial studies, using data structures and vocabularies appropriate for each discipline. Access is controlled by IP authentication and Name/Password checks for authorized users off campus. Users associated with member institutions can search, upload, and download materials from their computers. Persistent URLs allow users to create their own access mechanisms for use in conjunction with the OhioLink data. OhioLink uses an Informix relational database with Datablade modules, and Bulldog Media Asset Management software for searching. Their hardware includes a multi-terabyte Compaq Storage Array, IBM Tape Silo, and servers on the Ohio Academic Research network.
OhioLink members are encouraged to be content contributors. Through this mechanism, this resource is expanded in directions that will benefit the contributors as well as other users. Adrienne Varady, Visual Resources Curator at the University of Cincinnati, created OhioLink's first locally produced digital image collection. She submitted a proposal to provide images of six "signature" buildings on the campus of the University of Cincinnati by such internationally known architects as Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, and Frank Gehry. The next phase of her project will add other significant Cincinnati buildings, and the final phase will include historic structures in the "Miami Purchase" area of southwestern Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana. Images are only considered if the rights belong to the contributor, which makes these submissions particularly well suited for acquiring architecture images. OhioLink bases acceptance of proposed projects on their impact on instruction and scholarship, the availability of matching funds, inclusion of materials regarding the state of Ohio, and the institution's commitment to its completion. Other projects that have been submitted by members include Belmont Technical College's Historic Architecture Images, selected works from the Akron Art Museum, and the Wright Brothers' photographs from Wright State University. OhioLink assures uniformity of the DMC by establishing technical standards. Images must be scanned at an archival resolution level (1024X1536 ppi, 24-bit TIFF). The resultant large files are stored on OhioLink's multi-terabyte storage array. For art and architecture images, the VRA Core and Getty Thesauri were chosen as standards for structure and vocabulary. At UC, students are employed for scanning and data entry. The project continues to grow as time allows.
Jennifer Trant, Executive Director of the Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO), represented this external source of DMC images. AMICO is a pioneering non-profit consortium, whose goal is to facilitate the usage of museum multimedia in educational institutions. In establishing this consortium, many challenges were encountered, including decisions on content, documentation, intellectual property rights, technical issues, use, and economic feasibility. In order to foster a successful collaboration, various roles were established. Museum members supplied the images and collaborated on details of the programs, policies, and procedures. They and other distributing institutions, such as OhioLink and the California Digital Library, make these resources available to their end users and integrate them with other local applications. The AMICO staff facilitates member participation and collaboration, helps develop uniform practices and specifications, manages license agreements with individual institutions and subscriber consortia, establishes authority control, and provides user support. Subscribers enter into a license agreement that allows access to the images and accompanying data, and liberal usage for teaching and research. Examples of AMICO images and data in various formats were shown. When used in conjunction with other familiar resources, such as RLG databases, the learning curve is lessened. Issues which still remain include extending documentation beyond the VRA Core Categories, expanding content in response to usage, usage with a variety of technical systems, intellectual property issues, the economics of achieving and sustaining a self-supporting system, and building a community among the subscribers.
John Taormina, Chief Curator of the Visual Resources Collections at the University of Michigan, discussed the possibility of following the example of a consortial model such as OhioLink to create a national digital image collection. He considers visual resources professionals as best equipped to address and help find solutions for many of the difficult issues surrounding electronic image access. Elements which were instrumental in OhioLink's success, and which should be considered in the establishment of other central licensing agencies, include: proven success in library text automation (since the early 1990s); collective bargaining power; purchasing and licensing power as a statewide entity; existing technical infrastructure; members' advisory role; adoption of appropriate data standards; inclusion of data and images from a variety of disciplines; availability of grants for resource development; and distance learning potential. Taormina then enumerated seven points raised by Margaret Webster of Cornell University at the 1998 VRA annual conference in response to her experience with the Museum Educational Site Licensing project, and showed how OhioLink addressed them.
Discussion topics included the possibility of suggesting images for addition to AMICO; the challenge of the need for architectural images in a museum consortium; the possibility of using a variety of image collections and other resources in shared searches; whether there are comparable consortia in Europe; and the need for persistent URLs, as well as other issues of consistency and interoperability, when using various systems together.
Astrid R. Otey
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio