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Information Access in the Humanities. Selected Information Access Issues for Visual Materials. Jeanette C. Mills Director of Visual Services, UW School of Art. Slide Library Media Center. A researcher’s perspective. Master’s thesis: Anthropology .

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Information Access in the Humanities

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Information Access in the Humanities

Selected Information Access Issues for Visual Materials


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Jeanette C. MillsDirector of Visual Services, UW School of Art

  • Slide Library

  • Media Center



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Master’s thesis: Anthropology

  • “Changing fashion: the adoption of Euro-American clothing by Northwest Coast Indians”

  • Thesis for a master’s degree in Anthropology specializing in Museology (Museum Studies)

  • Completed in 1987


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Historical photographs

  • These are important visual materials for research but how do you access them?


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Where to begin?

Pacific Northwest Collection

  • Part of Special Collections in UW Libraries

  • Searched Native American image collection

  • Microfilmed images allowed for quicker searching but image quality was not the best.

  • The collection was indexed by tribe and subject, but had to search broadly to find what I wanted.


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How librarians helped

Told me about a few finding aids for images, e.g. Oregon Historical Society’s Union Guide to Photograph Collections in the Pacific Northwest.

Also helped by suggesting numerous textual materials.


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Other ways of obtaining resources

Visited several regional collections in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon because remote access was not possible.


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Now we have the Web

  • Projects like the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest Digital Collection make visual resources more accessible.(http://content.lib.washington.edu/aipnw/index.html)


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Master’s thesis: Art History

  • “Land claim art: Joe David and his support of Meares Island Tribal Park”

  • Completed in 1990


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Contemporary art

  • Where does one find images of a living artist’s work?


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Where to begin?

  • Searched library catalogs and periodical indexes for materials that might include images. This included the clipping files and regional index in Special Collections.

  • Not much was available in the Slide Library.

  • Also researched historical precedents for his work by looking at historical photos.


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Other tactics

  • Went to some collectors, galleries, and museums; sometimes was allowed to photograph artworks myself.

  • Went to the artist, but he kept little or no record of his work.


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Now we have the Web

  • The Web provides only a little additional help for research on contemporary artists.

  • Found just two sites with images directly related to this artist:

www.douglasreynoldsgallery.com/david.htm www.stoningtongallery.com/artists/david.htm



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Art Slide Library

Background and statistics


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Staffing

  • 2 full-time staff (director and curator)

  • 1 to 1.5 FTE student/volunteer staff


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The collection

  • 300,000+ 35mm slides

  • School of Art collection, not part of UW libraries.

  • Intended as a resource for UW-related teaching and presentations.

  • Also house a small reference book collection intended primarily for use by staff.


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Organization

  • Natural language, hierarchical system (no catalog numbers).

  • Western art hierarchy is generally media, century, country, artist.

  • Asian breakdown is by media, period/dynasty, artist.

  • Tribal hierarchies are usually geographic regions followed by groups.


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Catalog records

  • Records are housed in a FilemakerPro database, based on the original home-grown FoxPro database started in 1989.

  • Database contains records for less than half the collection.


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Catalog records

  • Working on a linked artist authority database, which will include information from an artist authority card file (our major finding aid).

  • No keyword or subject indexing.

  • No public access terminal at this point.


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Users

  • Primary users are School of Art faculty and students.

  • The School of Art has 11 academic programs in art, art history, and design.

  • Also serve faculty and students from around campus, although we discourage widespread use by undergraduates due to space and staff limitations.

  • Not open to the public.


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Circulation

  • Faculty from outside the School of Art and all students may borrow slides for 24 hours.

  • We re-file 80,000 to 100,000 slides each year.


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Art Slide Library

Reference services for staff and users


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Staff reference

  • Use reference sources regularly when cataloging.

  • Primarily use the resource links found on the staff intranet homepage.

  • Also use books in our reference collection.

  • Sometimes will search the web or use other web resources, for example: Toppenish Murals (http://www.wolfenet.com/~murals).


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User reference

  • Before autumn quarter begins, we do at least two group orientations where we provide handouts:

    • new MFA students

    • new Art History graduate students

  • As needed, other users are given an orientation to the collection.


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User reference: the easier questions

  • How to pronounce something correctly or the meaning of a term

  • Dates for an artist

  • Where to find something in the collection that doesn’t fit standard media categories

  • Attributes of a saint or some biblical text to understand context of a painting , e.g. new Bible concordance (http://www.biblestudytools.net)


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User reference: difficult questions

  • Audience-specific requests: a K-12 teacher who needs images

  • Non-specific questions: an author who needs an image appropriate for a book cover; must include humans and animals in landscape

  • User knows subject but not title or creator: famous Vietnam War era photo of man being shot in the head


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Special problems

  • Title variations, e.g. English vs. original language, made-up titles

  • Artist name variations, e.g. El Greco vs. Theotocopoulos and Master of Flemalle vs. Robert Campin

  • Unique classification systems for some areas such as Early Christian/Byzantine art


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Problem-solving

  • Once again, rely on resources homepage and books in our office.

  • Search the slide database.

  • Sometimes must simply rely on the knowledge in our own heads.


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Art Slide Library

Resources and handouts

http://students.washington.edu/~cmikkel/541/VisualArts.htm


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