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Captivate: audience engagement and the digital image repository in the visual arts.

By Leigh Garrett and Amy Robinson


Primarily focused on the visual and creative arts, the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) provides a national repository for images, and provides free access at the point of use for learning, teaching and research across the higher education sector. The repository has grown dramatically over the last twelve years, in excess of 120,000 items are now held on behalf of over three hundred collection holders. Usage has also grown significantly, by 600% over the last five years, now 1.75 million images are viewed each month by repository users.\ud \ud In September 2008, with funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), VADS started work on extending the impact and engagement of the repository in three key ways: developing mechanisms to share data with other repositories and online archives; improving the user experience of the collections; and increasing access to and usage of collections. This paper will explore these three areas of work and their impact on usage of the image repository. \ud \ud The first key objective was to enhance the discoverability of the visual resources held by VADS. This was accomplished by the introduction of an OAI-PMH service, with additional work planned on assessing the potential of OpenSearch and RSS technologies. Although the image repository is widely used, it was felt that its reach could be both broadened and deepened. The second key objective was to establish how the wider academic community currently engaged with the collections and more importantly what tools and services they wanted to see in future. The research method centred on an online questionnaire of academic staff, both users and non-users of the image repository, this was supplemented by the follow up telephone interviews were appropriate. Over 400 responses were received and the outcomes are due for publication in September 2009. The last key objective involved increasing usage, although informed by the research programme this area has focused on services and tools which had been previously identified as essential to the development of the repository, this has included the development of a range of additional user-focused facilities such as user tagging; top level hierarchical subject taxonomy; and enhanced lightbox features.\ud \ud The project is due for completion in September 2009 and outcomes and impact will be measured as part of the evaluation process, but early indications are positive. The response from the sector has been enthusiastic and the release of the new tools and services are eagerly awaited, and promise to captivate and engage existing and new users

Topics: AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General), Z665 Library Science. Information Science, ZA4050 Electronic information resources
Year: 2010
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Provided by: UCA Research Online

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