Describing Photographs for the Online Catalogue


Credits: 1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs

Attendees of this course will be introduced to the concept of informal learning in the academic library. The instructors will discuss specific examples of how informal learning can be supported including through gameplay, makerspaces, space design, furniture selection, and technology. Although not always emphasized in professional standards, informal learning is the primary source for building life skills such as critical thinking, flexibility, collaboration, and creativity, all of which are needed for students to be successful throughout their lives. Additionally, by fostering informal learning, libraries also foster life long learning by validating out-of-classroom learning opportunities.

  • Attendees will recognize informal learning opportunities.
  • Attendees will analyze their library for ways to increase informal learning opportunities.
  • Attendees will have the tools to create an informal learning proposal for their library.

This course can be taken as one of the courses in our eight-course Certificate in Library Instruction, but can be taken as a stand-alone course as well.

Course Information



1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs

Registration dates

We accept registrations through the first week of classes, unless enrollment is full, and unless the class was canceled before it started due to low enrollment.

Follow up course

Getting Started with Digital Image Collections

Course Description

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.

Course Goals:

  • 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

Beth KnazookBeth Knazook is a preservation specialist with considerable experience managing digitization projects and digital collections. She is currently the Preservation Coordinator for the Portage Network, established by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries to foster a national research data culture through research data services and infrastructure. 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 has also worked as the Digitization Manager for Huron County Library, Curatorial Specialist for Ryerson University Library Special Collections, and Photo Archivist for the Stratford Festival of Canada. She holds an MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University and the George Eastman Museum, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Art and Visual Culture at Western University, focusing on the introduction of photography into book illustration in nineteenth-century Canada.

How to Register

To enroll yourself or other participants in a class, use the “Register” button that follows the description of each course. If the “Register” button does not show up, try loading the page in a different web browser. Contact us if you have technical difficulties using our shopping cart system or would like to pay for an enrollment using another method. On the payment page in the shopping cart system, there is a place to add notes, such as the names and email addresses of participants you wish to enroll. We will contact you to request this information in response to your processed payment if you do not include it in the “notes” field. Prior to the start of the workshop, we will send participants their login instructions.

Payment Info

Our shopping cart system allows you to pay with a credit card, or with PayPal.

Alternatively, if it is an institutional payment, we can arrange to invoice you. Contact us by email, and we can make arrangements to suit your institution's business processes.

Special Session

Please contact us to arrange a special session of this class for a group of seven or more, with a negotiable discount, or to be notified when it is next scheduled.


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