Monday, August 27, 2012

Finding Images Online

Welcome back to another academic year at the University of Colorado Boulder! One of the summer projects the Visual Resources Center has been working on is reorganizing and updating our Find Images guide.

As for University of Colorado image resources, you will find information about and links to the VRC's departmental image collection (access restricted to the CU community) and the CU Digital Library. Our new Find Images Elsewhere on the Web section is where we have really focused on updating content to help you locate images. We've got a link there to our page on Image Finding Guides, which contain useful image finding aids that we have gathered from elsewhere. You'll also find links to our pages on General Digital Collections, Libraries, and Related Content (image resources representing broad content, with works from around the world and across historical periods), and Selected Online Museum Collections (museums that have been selected for the quality and scope of their online collections).

Perhaps the biggest change to our Find Images content is the collection of selected image resources organized chronologically, geographically, or by type:
We imagine this site as a perpetual work in progress, which we will continue updating as we encounter new resources that we think will be useful to you. We hope you find this new resource helpful, and as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Denver Art Museum Joins Google Art Project

I was pleased to see this morning that the Denver Art Museum has joined the Google Art Project. You can zoom your way into those glorious details of 162 works by 125 artists from the DAM's permanent collections.

Over 150 museums currently participate in Google Art Project, which now has a YouTube channel featuring some nice videos on how to use the site, behind the scenes footage, and more. If you haven't been to Google Art Project yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. With beautiful art, gorgeous images, and the ability to explore museums that you might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Visual Resources Association's Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study

Most of us who use images in education and scholarship find ourselves wondering at some point about whether we are within our legal rights to use an image. Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act allows for “fair use” exceptions to the exclusive rights of copyright owners to reproduce their work. While most educators know that teaching, scholarship, and research are generally thought to fall under the fair use umbrella, many of us find ourselves with more questions than answers. Under what circumstances can I post this image online? Can I share that image with colleagues from a different institution?

To help the academic community navigate the murky waters of copyright and fair use, the Visual Resources Association (VRA) released its Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study (PDF) last December. It has since been lauded and endorsed by many professional individuals and organizations, including the College Art Association and the Association of Research Libraries.

This document offers important guidance for individuals and institutions who seek a balance between risk management and the pursuit of educational and scholarly goals. It begins with an excellent introduction to fair use in relation to using in education and research. Then it describes six uses of copyrighted still images that the VRA and its impressive Legal Advisory Committee believe fall within fair use, along with suggestions for practices to bolster a fair use argument. These six uses are: 1) preservation; 2) use of images in teaching; 3) use of images on course websites and in other online study materials; 4) adaptations of images for teaching and classroom work by students; 5) sharing images among educational and cultural institutions to facilitate teaching and study; and 6) reproduction of images in theses and dissertations.

Image: Wordle created using the text from the VRA Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study.

Friday, April 6, 2012

BMW Tate Live: Online Live Performance Series

Live performance art in an online space with a global community of viewers participating via social media: with its new BMW Tate Live: Performance Room program the Tate is re-envisioning the Internet as a primary space in which artists can create and present their work.

Jérôme Bel inaugurated this experimental series of five performance events on March 22, and will be followed by Pablo Bronstein on April 26, Emily Roysdon on May 31, Harrell Fletcher on June 28, and Joan Jonas on a date to be announced.

How will the artists play with virtual communications and help redefine what an exhibition space can be? You are invited to find out by visiting Tate’s YouTube channel on the specified date of each performance at 8:00pm UK time (12:00pm PT; 1:00pm MT; 2:00pm CT; or 3:00pm ET in the US). Audience members are encouraged to participate online with questions to the artists and curators and by interacting with each other via the Tate's social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and by using the Twitter hashtag #BMWTateLive.

The performances will be archived and available for online viewing at a later date.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Expansion of Google Art Project Announced

Today the Google blog announced a major expansion of content available in the Google Art Project. A little over a year ago the VRC reported the launch of this resource. I noted then that while its scope was relatively small -- with only 1,000 images from 17 museums -- the Art Project had the potential to become an incredible resource over time. I am pleased to see that the Art Project now includes more than 30,000 high-resolution artworks. These represent a more diverse cultural range that includes sculpture, street art and photographs from 151 museums in 40 countries. There are currently Street View images for 46 museums, with more on the way.

In addition to more images, some other new elements include:
  • New tools, called Explore and Discover, let you find images by period, artist, or artwork type.
  • Integration of Google+ and Hangouts on the site.
  • Better quality of Street View images.
  • 46 artworks are now available in super high "gigapixel" resolution.
  • The My Gallery feature, which allows you to build, annotate, and share personalized galleries.
 Want to know more about the Google Art Project. The FAQs page is a great place to start. Have fun exploring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

NGA Images: High Resolution Images and Open Access Policy at the National Gallery of Art

On Friday the National Gallery of Art (NGA) announced the launch of its new online image resource, NGA Images. Here you can find  over 20,000 high-resolution open access images from the NGA collection. These images depict works that the NGA believes to be in the public domain, and are available free of charge for any commercial or non-commercial use. There is no need to seek permission before using these images.

"As the Gallery marks its 71st anniversary, it is fitting that we introduce NGA Images and an accompanying open access policy, which underscore the Gallery's mission and national role in making its collection images and information available to scholars, educators, and the general public," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "In turn this supports research, teaching, and personal enrichment; promotes interdisciplinary research; and nurtures an appreciation of all that inspires great works of art."

This is good news for scholars, and represents the continuation of a welcome trend in museums to make public domain images freely available.

See the NGA press release here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Public Art Archive and WESTAF

I've recently been in contact with a Visual Resources Association colleague who works for the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a regional non-profit arts service organization "dedicated to the creative advancement and preservation of the arts." This conversation reminded me about the Public Art Archive, an interesting WESTAF project that is still in beta. Selected pilot organizations have begun importing their collections into the archive; these include the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, the Oregon Arts Commission, the City of New Haven, and the City of Las Vegas Arts Commission.

You can do a keyword search for public artworks by artists, places, materials, etc., then refine your search by artist name, date, artwork type, material, etc. Each work's entry page includes authoritative and detailed description information; a selection of thumbnails; a Google map;  a link to the artist's Web site; and video and audio files when available.

The archives About page describes ways that the Public Art Archive will become increasingly useful to artists and artist agencies, the general public, and researchers, and  public art administrators. I look forward to seeing how this resource develops.

WESTAF's other activities are also of interest to those who produce, study, and manage visual culture. These include:
  • GO:GrantsOnline™,  fully customizable, robust, and flexible online grants management system
  •™ (CaFÉ™), an online application and adjudication management system used by public art programs, galleries, museums, and educational institutions to manage public art commissions, exhibitions, fellowships, and visual art competitions
  •, an online arts job bank that lists national opportunities for arts administrators and others as well as internships, grants, public art projects, and residencies
  •, an online gallery that allows visual artists to showcase their work and connect with private collectors, gallery owners, interior designers, corporate art buyers, public art administrators, and general art enthusiasts
  •®, an online application and adjudication management system used by more than 400 art fairs, festivals, and shows
  • CreativeSpaceAgent™, an online system that matches artists, musicians, and other creative people seeking studio, rehearsal, or performance space with those offering spaces for lease or purchase (currently deployed in the Denver metro area)
  • Creative Vitality™ Index (CVI™), a sophisticated creative economy report that measures and provides highly reliable and comparable data about the health and vitality of an area's creative sector, including for-profit and non-profit endeavors, businesses, and organizations. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Share Interactive Images with ThingLink

Would you find it useful to share interactive images you have tagged with notes and links to Web sites? If so, you might want to give ThingLink a try. This tool lets you create hot spots on images, which when clicked on reveal the notes that you have added and lead the viewer to the Web sites of your choosing. You can tag individual images or enable ThingLink for your entire site. It's easy to use, with a free basic account that should provide most instructors and students with the features they need. In just a few minutes I registered for an account, uploaded the image above, and created some tags for it. Once I had saved my work I simply copied the embed code that was provided and pasted it into this post, and I was also given the option to share a link to the tagged image on the ThingLink site (

ThingLink provides ways to create more active engagement with images. Of course, you can link to sites featuring text, but with links to video and audio files an image might also serve as a multimedia launcher. There is an option to allow anyone to edit an image, so you could have students interact with images you have posted, or have them post and tag their own images as part of an assignment. There are lots of possibilities here -- we would love to know if you decide to use ThingLink in your teaching.

Image: profzucker (Steven Zucker), Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii in frame with viewer (detail), 2011, available from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Technology Trends in Higher Ed: The 2012 Horizon Report

Are you interested in learning about the key technology developments that will affect your place within higher education in the coming years? If so, check out the NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. A collaboration between the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, this is an annual must-read for those of us who wish to keep abreast with the emerging technology trends in academic teaching, learning, and creative inquiry.

Each year the report identifies six technologies to watch, placed along adoption horizons ranging from near- to far-term, as well as a discussion of the key trends and significant challenges affecting the adoption of new technologies in higher education.

Why should we pay attention to the Horizon Report? Many technologies cited in previous years' reports have since become commonplace in our academic vocabularies and practices, and those of us who fail to understand them risk being perceived as out of touch. Examples include social networks and knowledge webs, smart phones, grassroots video, user-created content, new forms of scholarly communication, cloud-based computing, geolocation technology, and electronic books.

Six Technologies to Watch in 2012
  • mobile apps (time to adoption: one year or less) 
  • tablet computing (time to adoption: one year or less) 
  • game-based learning (time to adoption: two to three years) 
  • learning analytics (time to adoption: two to three years) 
  • gesture-based computing (time to adoption: four to five years) 
  • 'Internet of Things' (time to adoption: four to five years) 
Following an introductory overview, each of these areas includes a section on their relevance for teaching, learning, research, or creative expression; a sampling of specific applications; links to specific examples; and links to articles and resources for further reading.

Key Trends
  1. People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
  2. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.
  3. The world of work is increasingly collaborative, driving changes in the way student projects are structured.
  4. The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators.
  5. Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models.
  6. There is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based and active learning. Challenge-based learning and similar methods foster more active learning experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.
Significant Challenges
  1. Economic pressures and new models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional models of higher education. 
  2. Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.
  3. Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
  4. Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies.
  5. New modes of scholarship are presenting significant challenges for libraries and university collections, how scholarship is documented, and the business models to support these activities.
Image: Oriano Nicolau, Horizon magic-Traveling around a magic world, 2007. Available from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Personal Digital Archiving at iLibrarian

Do you feel that your personal digital files are becoming increasingly difficult to manage? Our ever-growing collections of digital assets such as documents, photographs, music, videos, correspondence, and Web sites make us vulnerable to data loss. What steps can we take to protect these valuable assets? Enter Ellyssa Kroski from iLibrarian. Today she wrapped up her eight-part series on personal digital archiving. Following an introductory overview that addresses challenges, obstacles, and the difference between backups and archives, the remaining posts cover the areas of strategy, storage options, file formats, policy, implementation, cataloging, and stewardship. Written for the layperson and based on a three-hour workshop that Kroski offers, this is a thorough yet concise introduction to concepts and strategies we should all consider for our own personal digital archives.

In her conclusion Kroski also provides links to resources she found exceptionally useful as she gathered content for her workshop.

Personal Archiving: Preserving Your Digital Memories: Library of Congress
Creating a Personal Digital Archive: ABC  News
Digital Preservation Management Tutorial: Cornell University Library
Decoding the Digital: A Common Language for Preservation: British Library Conference Proceedings

Image: dolescum (Anne G), Archives' stacks, 2009, available from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

African American History Month: A Selection of Image Resources

February is African American History Month. To celebrate we have assembled a selection of sites that feature images related to African American history. Know of other significant collections? Please share in the comments.

The African-American Mosaic
A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History & Culture. "This exhibit marks the publication of The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture…" Covers colonization, abolition, migrations, and the WPA.

African-American Odyssey
From the Library of Congress' African-American collections, this online exhibition includes links to Frederick Douglass Papers; Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s; Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938; From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909; and Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860.

African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting
"This exhibition pays tribute to the extraordinary variety of individual works of art that come into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art as gifts or purchases. Together, these artworks represent 10 years of building a permanent collection that embodies the diversity and outstanding quality of Africa’s arts."

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record
From the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and University of Virginia. "The 1,280 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World."

Digital Durham
From Duke University. "Digital Durham website offers students, teachers, and researchers a range of primary sources with which they can investigate the economic, social, cultural, and political history of a post-bellum southern community... The new materials on Digital Durham touch on over 600 topics including African American business enterprise, the emergence of textiles, tobacco production and marketing, child labor, prohibition, evangelical revivalism, nineteenth-century medical practices, women's experience of childbirth, and public and private education."

Digital Schomburg Images of African Americans from the 19th Century
From the New York Public Library. "The images selected for presentation in this database are drawn primarily from 21 discreet collections at the Schomburg Center: sixteen personal, organizational and photographers' collections, many of which are complemented by substantial bodies of letters, diaries, minutes and other textual documents; four collections representing examples of the various presentation formats common to nineteenth century portrait and genre photography; and a collection of wood engravings from the illustrated U.S. press of the nineteenth century"

 Images of African-American Slavery and Freedom
From the Collections of the Library of Congress. "This year's theme "African Americans and the Civil War" honors the efforts of people of African descent to destroy slavery and inaugurate universal freedom in the United States. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society."

Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs
From the University of Virginia Library. "Jackson Davis, an educational reformer and amateur photographer, took nearly 6,000 photographs of African American schools, teachers and students throughout the Southeastern United States. His photographs -- most intended to demonstrate the wretched conditions of African American schools in the south and to show how they could be improved -- provide a unique view of southern education during the first half of the twentieth century."

Pictures of African Americans During World War II
From the National Archives. These images "illustrate African-American participation in World War II. The pictures were selected from the holdings of the Still Picture Branch (NNSP) of the National Archives and Records Administration. The majority of the pictures were chosen from the records of the Army Signal Corps in Record Group (RG) 111, the Department of the Navy in RG 80, the Coast Guard in RG 26, the Marine Corps in RG 127, and the Office of War Information in RG 208."

Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans from the Cook Collection
From Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. "Digital collection of over 250 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, selected from the George and Huestis Cook Photograph Collection at the Valentine Richmond History Center. The digitally scanned images on this site are of prints from glass plate negatives or film negatives taken by George S. Cook (1819-1902) and Huestes P. Cook (1868-1951), primarily in the Richmond and Central Virginia area. The Cook Collection consists of over 10,000 negatives taken from the 1860s to the 1930s in Virginia and the Carolinas."

Image: Clay, Edward Williams, America / E.W.C., c1841. From Images of African-American Slavery and Freedom.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What Happened to Google's Advanced Image Search?

A couple of people have remarked to me lately that they can no longer find Google's Advanced Image Search feature. Google is known for its clean design, and they have also been working toward a more consistent user experience across their various services. In keeping with these principles they recently simplified their image search interface.

Take heart; you can still get there from here. Go to the Image Search page and look for the gear icon in the upper right corner. Voilà! All of the options are still there: Image size, aspect ratio, type of image, source of image, color in image, usage rights, file type, and region.

FOLLOW UP: Sigh... Not long after I posted this, Google tweaked the Image Search page once more. Now you must enter a search term first, then look for the gear icon. Clean design, yes, but not exactly intuitive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Why have Wikipedia, Craigslist, and so many other sites gone dark today? Why is there so much controversy about SOPA and PIPA? Many people feel that  protecting intellectual property is important, but that these anti-piracy bills would amount to censorship with drastic consequences for the Internet as we know it today. Can we come up with better solutions to the problems? Take a little time today to learn more about SOPA and PIPA, and contact your senator if what you learn concerns you.

Proposed legislation:
Learn more:
Take action:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education from ACRL

The ubiquity of images and visual media -- together with their great power to persuade, contextualize, engage, and illustrate -- underscore the importance of visual literacy today. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), which published its Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education over a decade ago, recently released its visual complement: Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. These standards define visual literacy as "a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media."

Relevant to studies in any discipline, these standards aim to provide educators with "an intellectual framework and structure to facilitate the development of skills and competencies required for students to engage with images in an academic environment, and critically use and produce visual media throughout their professional lives."

Detailed performance indicators and learning outcomes expand on each of the following seven standards:
  1. The visually literate student determines the nature and extent of the visual materials needed.
  2. The visually literate student finds and accesses needed images and visual media effectively and efficiently.
  3. The visually literate student interprets and analyzes the meanings of images and visual media.
  4. The visually literate student evaluates images and their sources.
  5. The visually literate student uses images and visual media effectively.
  6. The visually literate student designs and creates meaningful images and visual media.
  7. The visually literate student understands many of the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues surrounding the creation and use of images and visual media, and accesses and uses visual materials ethically.
Of course, these issues are the bread and butter of visual artists and art historians in academia; after all, this is what you do. However, the standards note that "visual literacy education is typically a collaborative endeavor, involving faculty, librarians, curators, archivists, visual resources professionals, and learning technologists." There are many ways that the VRC can support your students in pursuit of each of these standards. These include, but are not limited to, help with:
  • identifying a variety of image sources, materials, and types;
  • finding and accessing images and visual media effectively and efficiently;
  • retrieving or reproducing the needed image using appropriate technologies or systems (e.g., download functions, copy and paste, scanning, cameras);
  • making judgments about the reliability and accuracy of image sources;
  • using technology effectively to work with images;
  • using a variety of tools and technologies to produce images and visual media;
  • understanding many of the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues surrounding images and visual media (including intellectual property, copyright, and fair use).
We look forward to discussing ways that we can support your teaching in pursuit of these goals. Drop us a line!

Image: Michael Coghlan (mikecogh), Buddha with Swastika, 2011, available from Flickr under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.