Describing Photographs for the Online Catalogue
Instructor: Beth Knazook
Dates: June 3rd through 28th, 2019
Credits: 1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs
Students in this course will explore the many ways in which photographic images are described and interpreted by both people and computers. The goal of the course is to broaden the non-specialist cataloguer’s ability to describe the subject content and material qualities of photographs, and to provide a greater understanding of current standards and approaches to image resource access. The course will begin with exercises aimed at helping students to identify and describe different photographic media and common deterioration problems. Students will develop an image record using either the VRA Core Categories or Dublin Core, and will apply authority data to these records using specialized controlled vocabularies such as the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials and the Getty Vocabularies. Class discussions will focus on questions of data completeness and complexity, theories regarding image iconography and interpretation, and the feasibility of using crowd-sourced descriptive information, including social tagging and folksonomies. The outcome of this course will be a greater understanding of the varied approaches to describing visual content through written language, giving students the skills to incorporate flexibility into the cataloguing structure.
This course is a follow-up to Getting Started with Digital Image Collections, but it is not necessary to have taken that class in order to participate. While the previous course focused on building a digitization program, this course will focus on the description and retrieval of digital resources.
- Improve cataloguer lexicon for describing image quality and content, understand theories of image description
- Learn to identify and describe the common ways in which images deteriorate
- Appreciate the “semantic gap” between visual and textual information
- Improve understanding of controlled vocabularies, folksonomies and social tagging for image retrieval
This course can be taken as one of eight courses needed to earn our Certificate in Cataloging and Technical Services, but can be taken as a stand-alone course as well.
Beth Knazook is an independent lecturer and preservation professional specializing in providing care and access to photographs and special media. She has taught classes on managing photograph collections for the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information, and on descriptive cataloguing standards for the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). She is currently pursuing a PhD at Queen’s University in Canada, where her research focuses on the introduction of photographic illustration into Canadian book publishing in the mid-nineteenth century. Prior to returning to school, she worked as the Curatorial Specialist for Ryerson University Library Special Collections and as the Photo Archivist for the Stratford Festival of Canada, and trained as a bookbinder with the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. She holds an MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University and the George Eastman Museum. Interview with Beth Knazook
This is an online class that is taught asynchronously, meaning that participants do the work on their own time as their schedules allow. The class does not meet together at any particular times, although the instructor may set up optional sychronous chat sessions. Instruction includes readings and assignments in one-week segments. Class participation is in an online forum environment.
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