Fairfield’s ARTstor Digital Image Collection Provides an Innovative Research and Teaching Tool

Submitted by Lisa Calderone MFA '11 on June 16, 2010

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Fairfield University recently acquired a whole new lexicon. A customized digital collection of 1,000 images has been formatted, catalogued, and uploaded by Fairfield’s Art History Program (AH) to the globally renowned ARTstor Digital Image Library. Now Fairfield’s faculty and students not only have access to the over one million digital images hosted by ARTstor, but also more than 1,000 customized in a special collection just for the University community. Students can download and use these images in their research papers, while faculty can include individual images or whole image groups in digital presentations for the classroom.

ARTstor & Fairfield’s Digital Image Collection

Created in 2001 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ARTstor was launched to the public in 2004. ARTstor’s goal is to address the need for an accessible, shared online image library in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, the sciences, and social sciences, and to reduce the laborious efforts of arts and educational institutions worldwide in need of scanning and cataloguing identical images. Today, a global community of museum curators, librarians, scholars, photographers, educators, and artists has contributed a wide range of images that are shared for interdisciplinary teaching and research purposes.

cas_abe_lincolnThe Fairfield University Digital Image Collection was created to serve the needs of AH as well as provide a resource to the entire University community. A repository for digital images not in ARTstor that have been created or curated and catalogued by AH, the collection allows easy access to these images for downloading and inclusion in teaching and research projects.

Fairfield’s current digital image collection includes:

  • Nearly all the works from The Bellarmine Museum of Art
  • Items coming on loan to the museum from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Works from the campus art collection
  • Original photographs from the University community
  • Over 250 high quality original photographs of important artworks that have been licensed for teaching

This summer, ARTstor is advancing beyond its highly successful pilot program of hosting institutional collections to a subscription-based image management platform called Shared Shelf that will enable real-time management by participating institutions. Currently, uploads are required in bulk (500 or more at a time) and could take up to three months to appear on the site. Further details about this timely software enhancement can be found here. The advantage of the new platform will be that different Fairfield University departments could begin building their own digital image collections in-house to satisfy their individual needs.

Call for Submissions

Building the University’s ARTstor digital image collection has been the passion and project of Carey Mack Weber, Visual Resources Curator in the Art History Program and Registrar of the Bellarmine Museum of Art. cas_spiral_jetty_lomonacoBefore every semester, Weber finds out what new images faculty will need for their teaching and begins the process of locating said images. If they are not available in ARTstor, they are created or licensed, and the images then become candidates for being included in the Fairfield University Visual Resources Collection.

Weber has periodically put out a call for submissions to Fairfield’s faculty and University community and looks forward to the unexpected visual treasures that turn up. “I love adding original photography to the collection,” says Weber. “My favorites include former Prof. Jesus Escobar’s beautiful images of art and architecture from Spain and Rome, Prof. Katherine Schwab’s amazing images of the Acropolis and her trips to Italy and Japan, Prof. Marti LoMonaco’s images of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in Utah, and the newly acquired photographs of the Ziggurat at Ur taken by Robert Chop, a computer technician in CNS, when he was recently stationed in Iraq.”

Next Steps

To browse the collection, go to the library website and select ARTstor from the list of databases. Click on GO to enter the ARTstor Digital Library, and then under Institutional Collections click on the Fairfield University Visual Resources Collection.

cas_guggenheim_bilbao_escobarWeber continues to collect and catalogue original high quality digital images of art, architecture, and objects of historical significance from all members of the Fairfield University community. So take your camera along on your summer vacations, research and scholarship sabbaticals, study abroad trips, and mission excursions, and remember to jot down identifying information of your subjects. “All I need for cataloguing purposes are the name or title of the subject and its specific location, but the more information you can give me the better the image records will be,” says Weber.

The next Fairfield upload to ARTstor is scheduled for September, so if you’re planning to travel the world this summer, contact cweber@fairfield.edu to discuss the possibilities of adding to this special collection.

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