As an art historian, my primary sources for research and teaching are images of works of art. Over the past ten years, I have collected thousands of images through scanning, downloading from databases and museum websites, and my own personal digital photography. Managing these visual resources so that they are accessible to my students and me both inside and beyond the classroom is an ongoing challenge. This project will focus on coming up with a system to more efficiently create, catalog, and archive digital images, metadata, and related resources while making them more accessible for me and my students. Since the textbook for the course serves mainly as a field guide rather than a comprehensive image and background resource, the ability to create and manipulate an image and resource database for the course is paramount. In order to make this project manageable as a test case, I plan to concentrate on developing an image and resource database for a course I teach each spring: Buddhist Art in Asia.
My goals in developing an image and resource database for Buddhist Art in Asia are to tackle several related challenges. First, I want to develop a system to consolidate and catalog existing digital resources so that I can more easily find what I already have and determine what additional materials need to be gathered and processed for the course. In other words, I want to come up with one system to rule, and replace, the many that I currently use. Once such a system is in place, archiving will also be more consistent and reliable. Second, students need access to high quality interactive images with accurate metadata in order to more effectively prepare for exams, discussions, and do research for their projects. Right now, because of the space and format limitations of BlackBoard, students can only access images through a small static PDF file. Ideally, students could access large, zoomable images associated with each class session and/or assignment. Third, since art history begins but does not end with images, I want to be able to link other digital resources directly to images in order to encourage and guide student research. For instance, I want to provide links to other images, to museum and artist websites, to articles in JSTOR, to other digital databases, and to books available at Kelvin Smith Library, CIA, Ingalls Library at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and through OhioLink. Finally, I hope to eventually use the database as a repository for images that I can draw upon directly for classroom teaching through the implementation of some sort of zoomify system that will allow me to use images more interactively.