Digital Images for Teaching and Research

A few weeks ago, I met with UC Davis librarian Dan Goldstein. We talked about the digital collections available to UC Davis faculty and students and the library subject guides that organize those collections by discipline.

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For example, the Art, Architecture & Art History guide that Goldstein curates includes links to encyclopedias, bibliographies, online databases, and collections that provide access to photographs, digital copies of paintings, and videos. There is also a free site from New York City with 870,000 photographs; another site provides a map of Gothic France; another allows you to view the March of Time series from the 1930s-1960s.

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Like anywhere else, copyright laws and licenses limit the use of images and journal articles on the library site. However, as a general rule, you are permitted to teach or study with the images you find via the library’s collections—the librarians wouldn’t acquire the collection if that weren”t the case. Of course, if you plan to publish an image or post it somewhere online, you’ll need to contact the person who owns the rights. Fortunately, the library’s collections also make this process straightforward, and if you are having trouble finding copyright information, the librarians are happy to help (visit the Copyright & Intellectual Property page for librarian contact information).

goldstein ss3The largest collection of digital images for use by members of the UC Davis community is the ARTstor database (if you’re accessing this from home, log in using the library’s VPN). Goldstein describes the database as a “mediator between the owners of the images and the users.” Many different libraries, museums, and other kinds of collectors make their images available on ARTstor. Some institutions, like the MET, flag some with IAP (images for academic publishing). There are specific instructions to follow, but IAP essentially means that you can use the image in an academic publication for free. ARTstor also has QuickTime Videos that give virtual tours of a number of locations, such as Inca sites in Peru.

In addition to providing access to downloadable materials, ARTstor has sophisticated teaching tools. As a faculty member, you can add comments to images that only you and your students can see, or you can allow students to make comments that only you can see (which clearly has potential uses for homework and tests). Also, note the excellent image viewing software that allows you to zoom in on the images; since many of the images are very high resolution, the zoom allows you to see details more clearly than if you were standing in a gallery looking at the painting.

ARTstor is just one of the many valuable resources on the library site—check out the subject guide for your discipline!

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