University of Illinois Library
1408 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL, 61801
The Digital Services and Development Unit has a combined focus on technical imaging and visual information access and retrieval, enabling us to develop optimal methods for creating and providing access to experimental electronic files of visual information, as well as studying its use in the digital environment. Projects and research conducted by the program have addressed the following five critical issues that face both research and practice in the area of digital imaging:
Several exploratory projects have been carried out that have enabled the Digital Services and Development Unit to develop expertise in digitizing and providing access to the Library's collections, as well as materials from other cultural heritage institutions. Since 1995, the program has worked with such diverse collections as historical maps and deteriorating aerial photographs, unique costume and set design sketches, emblem books and illuminated manuscripts, half-tones and photographs from the Lorado Taft papers, magazine tear-sheet advertisements from the D'Arcy Advertising Collection, and photographs and archival materials from a number of institutions for several cultural heritage projects.
At the same time, the Library had begun collaborative research with scholars in the Beckman Institute, which was supported by the National Science Foundation's Digital Libraries Initiative (DLI) Program to identify new methods of image retrieval based on the content of the image. The result of this collaboration was a database called Multimedia Analysis and Retrieval System (MARS), an image database management system supporting ranked similarity queries based on keywords and image attributes of color, texture, color/texture layout and shape. Members of the Digital Imaging Initiative Unit were involved in the evaluation of MARS.
Also in 1995, the University Library and the Eastman Kodak Company launched a pilot project to test the feasibility of operating a production imaging workstation in a library setting, and to collaborate with Kodak to determine the best methods for capturing archival, high-quality images from film and through the use of a digital camera. Materials were selected from several areas on campus that have rich graphical image collections to test whether there would be a variation in the amount of resources needed to digitize various types of materials-human, financial, and technical. Approximately 2,000 images were converted from 35mm film negatives or transparencies to Photo CD format during the pilot test. Results of the final test are published on the web as The University of Illinois/Kodak Digital Imaging Project: A Report on the Use of the Photo Imaging Workstation and Related Imaging Projects.
Emblem 6 from Emblemata
As an extension of Humanities Image Database, the Digital Imaging Initiative Unit began working with a professor in the German Department who had been extensively studying and cataloging the University's collection of German emblem books. Emblem books are illustrated books, published from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, usually accompanied by a motto or short verse, and explanatory text. For the past few years, international interest has been growing in this field of study, together with the desire to preserve the intellectual content of these rare and antique books, makes this collection ideal for digitization. The Digital Services and Development Unit how hosts a database of online emblem images, as well as portal for the emblem community, OpenEmblem.
The Gaseous Electronics Laboratory in
In early 1997, discussions began on the Global Cultural
Memory project, a collective archive of digital information (text, images, and,
in future, sound & video) that documents both everyday and singular
events, lifestyles, and achievements that have influenced the most recent
fifty years of cultural memory.
Gaylord Watson's new
Also in 1997, a joint project between the University
of Illinois Library and the Follett Corporation
was set up to scan and digitize historical maps from the collections of
the Map and Geography Library and the Rare Book and Special Collections
Library. The eighty-four indexed images represented maps depicting North
America, the Northwest Territory, the state of Illinois, and counties
and townships within the state, and range in time from 1650 to 1994.
In 1996, the Digital Imaging Initiative Unit teamed up with the Advanced Information Technology Group at the University to begin the Humanities Image Database Project (HID). The goals of this project were: to provide networked access to images, using consistent metadata to humanities scholars for both research and instructional purposes; to encourage use of the Web as an instructional tool; and to promote sharing of visual resources among humanities instructors. HID empowers faculty to manage their own collections by providing them access to a networked database application system, and by offering resources for how to use cataloging and classifying rules and tools. Currently, images are cataloged using a commercial image database application, Cumulus, a client-server package that runs on a Mac operating platform, created by Canto Software. Currently, faculty from The School of Art and Design and the French Department are cataloging images to be used by their colleagues and students.
Will County, Illinois - 1939 and 1954
Portion of aerial photo
Mid 1997 saw the beginning of the Historic Aerial
Photos Imagebase Project, a joint project with the Map
and Geography Library and the Geographic
Modeling Systems Laboratory at the University of Illinois. The
goals of the project are to conserve a rapidly deteriorating collection
of the most comprehensive collection of aerial photographs of all 102
counties in Illinois, dating back to the 1930's using digital imaging
technology, and to
provide innovative electronic access to digital information. The proposal
for this project is available online as History
From a Bird's Eye: Illinois Aerial Photographs: A Prospectus for Creating
a Digital Archive.
Taft with Fountain of Creation figures
Sculptor Lorado Taft (1860- 1936), a native of Illinois,
is one of the most outstanding graduates in the history of the University
(B.A. 1879, MA 1880). In addition to being a prominent and successful
artist, Taft was an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago, lecturer
of art history at the University of Chicago, and, later, a non-resident
Professor of Art at the University of Illinois. In addition to lecturing,
Taft wrote a great deal about the history of art and was very active in
professional societies. The University owns several of his works, including
two statues in front of the Main Library. His greatest legacy to the University
remains the Alma Mater statue, which stands in front of Altgeld Hall at
the corner of Green and Wright streets in Urbana.
Costume design for
The Motley Collection of Theatre and Costume Design is a rare collection of original costume and set designs, sketches, notes, photographs, prop lists, storyboards, and swatches of fabric comprising over 5000 items from more than 150 productions in England and the United States. The entire collection was acquired for the University of Illinois in April, 1981, by University English Professor Michael Mullin, and is housed in the Rare Book and Special Collections Library.With the support of Eastman Kodak and the Follett Corporation, digitized images of sketches from six Shakespearean productions are fully indexed and available on the Web. Links to production notes for that performance are also provided.
Portion of a painting
In 1995, the University
became one of seven sites selected to participate in the Museum Educational
Site Licensing program (MESL), sponsored by the Getty
Information Institute. This two-year project, which was extended an
additional year, enabled the Library,
in collaboration with the College of Fine
and Applied Arts, to make accessible across
the UIUC campus network 10,000 digital images from six major U.S. museums
and the Library of Congress.