Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Universities without Pictures

Websites established for institutional rhetoric often struggle with finding the appropriate address for an advocacy role. From their website you wouldn't know that the UCLA Arts Library is facing closure in the face of pending budget cuts. Nor would you know that librarians, art scholars, and their supporters have started a Facebook group or that there is a petition at the website for the American Studies Association that was created in a bid to get campus administrators to reconsider closing the library's doors for good. Like many collections associated with slides and art prints, visual resource archives are often seen as expendable in the age of the Internet, given faculty habits of now Googling for images to use in lecture and the investment that universities have already made in services like ARTstor. The problem is that image collections don't actually function as a zero-sum situation in which online use necessarily decreases on-site use and that many slides and prints have not been digitized, given the labor-intensive character of this work.

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