Visual arts research data management (VARDM) seems to be a burgeoning subfield among art librarians and visual resource professionals that will be increasingly relevant to the success of emerging professionals in these fields. VARDM is the subject of a workshop at the VRA Annual Conference in March and, with the advent of data management services and interdisciplinary research, we can expect to see data management spread beyond the sciences into the arts and humanities.
VARDM is currently more developed in the UK than the US, due to a series of JISC funded projects that have investigated the topic since 2007. These projects have labored to define the field, its component parts and the different roles that exist for researchers and data managers. The projects have made their various outputs available – most notably a series of online training toolkits aimed at students, researchers and data managers.
A common thread among these projects is the struggle to define key terms like ‘research data’, ‘data set’, and ‘research output’ as they pertain to the visual and performing arts. Some definitions that recur in the existing literature appear below.
- “A useful point to consider is that the research data of today may well be the special collections of the future” (cited in Murtagh, 2011)
- “Research data is digital information created in the course of research but which isn’t a published research output. Research data excludes purely administrative records. The highest priority research data is that which underpins a research output” (Research Data Management Glossary)
- “Data which arises out of, and evidences, research” (Garrett and Gramstadt, 2012)
Research Output – regardless of presentation, is a planned public statement of new knowledge or interpretation
Data Set – research collated in a certain way to substantiate a particular interpretation, analysis, or argument. May not always lead to a research output (Garrett and Grandstadt 2012)
Evidence – Evidence which is used or created to generate new knowledge and interpretations. (Garrett 2012)
The concept of the ‘visual arts researcher’ is a broad one, drawing from the fields of art, architecture, art history, design, dance, performance, etc. and including both practitioners and researchers from within each – including those who would identify simultaneously as both. Thus, ‘research data’ is understood to encompass sketches, samples, notebooks, process materials, reference materials, and any number of other things. Thinking about VARDM poses interesting challenges because, in addition to the logistics that need to be resolved in order to effectively preserve and provide access to the materials throughout their life cycle, one must constantly be distinguishing between the creative process and the research process, all the while recognizing moments when they intersect and align.
To date, most of the efforts to tackle these problems and get a handle on research data in the visual arts have been funded in various ways by JISC in the UK. Between 2007 and 2009, JISC funded a project called Kultur which developed an institutional repository model for research output in the creative and applied arts. Kultur was succeeded by a project called Kultivate which applied the best practice developed by Kultur. In August 2010, the JISC Managing Research Data Program (MRDP) funded the CAiRO project (Curating Artistic Research Output) which ran until July 2011 with the goal of creating a teaching and learning module designed for researchers at the postgraduate level.
CAiRO was followed by the KAPTUR project (also funded by JISC MRDP) from 2011 – 2013 which, “investigated the nature and scope of research data in the visual arts”, and, “created a sectoral model of best practice in the management of research data in the visual arts, consisting of: toolkits, workshops, case studies, institutional policies, a technical requirements analysis, and business and sustainability plans”. For more information, see the project’s outputs – in particular the KAPTUR Environmental Assessment Report. The report investigates issues of terminology, the role of the visual arts researcher and the visual arts research data lifecycle by exploring the following two research questions:
What is the nature of visual arts research data?
How can we support the needs of visual arts researchers through institutional infrastructure
KAPTUR also developed three of the previously mentioned online toolkits designed to provide an introduction into research data in the visual arts and its management – two of the toolkits are geared towards researchers (Introduction to Research Data, Data Management Planning) and the third is intended for visual arts data managers (Managing the Material).
KAPTUR was succeeded by a group called VADS4R (Visual Arts Data Skills for Researchers) from February 2013-July 2014 which built upon the work of KAPTUR by piloting and further developing additional training plans and making the KAPTUR toolkits available. VADS4R created two additional toolkits: How to Avoid a Data Disaster and Writing the AHRC Technical Plan.
Within the VADS4R toolkits the merits of effective research data management are discussed at great length and I will not reproduce all of them here. The concise version, available on the project site, is as follows:
Managing your research data can…
…Ensure you meet research funder expectations
…Make it easier to understand successive iterations of your research
…Make it easier to re-visit your research if changes are required, for example by a journal editor or exhibition curator
…Enable easier access to your research for re-use in other projects
…Avoid the serious implications of having to re-do your research from scratch, for example due to data loss or inaccessible data
For emerging professionals, the point of interest here is not so much the history of VARDM projects in the UK, but the methodical aims and prodigious outputs of these projects which are exceptionally well documented and easily accessible online. While earning my MLIS I was not aware of any coursework addressing VARDM and I would be very interested to hear about any programs that offer this kind of material or institutions that are actively addressing it.
In the recent conference co-sponsored by ArLiSNAP and VREPS, “Visualizing the Future: New Perspectives in Art Librarianship”, Kate Thornhill of Lelsley University College of Art and Design discussed the early stages of her foray into VARDM. If you’re interested in initiating VARDM programming at your institution, I would recommend reviewing her presentation in addition to the VADS4R toolkits and Kultur outputs.
For more information:
- Kultur – http://kultur.eprints.org/index.htm
- Kultivate – http://www.vads.ac.uk/kultur2group/projects/kultivate/
- CAiRO – http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140614073310/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/mrd/rdmtrain/cairo.aspx
- KAPTUR – http://www.vads.ac.uk/kaptur/
- VADS4R – http://www.vads4r.vads.ac.uk/p/welcome.html
- Garrett, Leigh.”KAPTUR: Managing Visual Arts Research Data” Poster presentation for JISCMRD program meeting (October 2012) http://www.slideshare.net/kaptur_mrd/kaptur-postera1
- Garrett, Leigh and Gramstadt, Marie-Therese (2012) KAPTUR: exploring the nature of visual arts research data and its effective management. EVA LONDON 2012 Electronic Workshops in Computing. pp. 88-96
- Marieke Guy, “Definitions of Research Data in the Arts” presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/MariekeGuy/kaptur-def2
- Murtagh, J. (2011) An arts persepective: day two and three – the sixth DCC Roadshow on data management http://www.dcc.ac.uk/news/arts-perspective-dcc-roadshow
- Research Data Management Glossary: http://vocab.bris.ac.uk/data/glossary/
AHL Foundation is a non-profit visual arts organization with a mission to support artists of Korean heritage working in the United States. AHL provides artist grants, scholarships and professional development opportunities for artists along with public programs that fosters greater public awareness of the cultural contribution of Korean artists through exhibitions, public art projects, artist studio visits, lectures, workshops, museum tours and art history classes.
AHL is currently looking for a metadata creator to help create an artist-based archive with the artists’ biographical information and image files. The project will start immediately and be continued for several months. An ideal candidate would be someone with experience with visual database systems or artist archives. Experience with metadata schemas (particularly EAC-CPF) and controlled vocabularies such as the Getty thesauri, LCSH and VIAF is strongly preferred. Knowledge of Korean is a plus, although not required.
Compensation will be commensurate with experience, but we are thinking of $15-18 an hour for a minimum of 20 hours. Working remotely may be possible for part of the project. However, we expect to work together in the office for the initial phase. Please do not apply if you cannot commute. Our office is located in Manhattan.
AHL is also looking to hire a research assistant to work with the metadata creator in creating the archive. The research assistant will research, contact artists, clear copyright issues, and compile the artists’ biographical information and image files. An ideal candidate would be someone with a strong interest in Asian artists and culture and MUST be able to read/understand Korean. Experience with visual database systems or artist archives is a plus. Small stipend is available.
Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education. One to two years of experience in libraries and/or archives working with metadata. Working knowledge of metadata cataloging standards and systems (e.g. VRA Core, Dublin Core, EAD), digital asset management systems and digital repositories.
Demonstrated computing skills and efficiency utilizing complex computing applications including but not limited to Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, ArtStor’s Shared Shelf, and Cloud-based storage solutions.
College-level course work in art, art history, or architectural history. Demonstrated knowledge of digitization processes and workflows.
At the University’s discretion, the education and experience prerequisites may be excepted where the candidate can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the University, an equivalent combination of education and experience specifically preparing the candidate for success in the position.
(from the MCN listserv!)
The Portland Art Museum invites applications for the position of Digital Assets Manager. If you are a detail oriented, well organized team player, we are interested in hearing from you!
At the Portland Art Museum, our mission is to engage the public with art and film of enduring quality, to facilitate dialogue with diverse audiences, and to collect, preserve, and educate for the enrichment of present and future generations.
This position is full-time (30-40 hours per week) and is grant funded for one year with a salary of $40,000 annually. Please note, the Museum’s intention is to continue the role beyond the grant, but funding is not guaranteed.
Reporting to the Collections Information Manager, the Digital Assets Manager (DAM) oversees the day-to-day administration of an enterprise-level digital asset management system (DAMS). In this position you will organize, describe, and disseminate digital assets that relate to our encyclopedic collection of almost 50,000 works of art. Working collaboratively with interdepartmental team members, you will develop and support sustainable practices around the digital asset lifecycle to ensure the long-term availability and integrity of a wide variety of assets.QUALIFICATIONS
Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science or equivalent combination of experience and knowledge highly desirable.
Knowledge of museum purposes, organization, and programs. Previous museum experience a strong plus.
Demonstrated experience with databases, digital asset and collections management systems, web technologies, user support and services, and project management.
Experience with metadata mapping, extraction, and embedding tools, such as Adobe Bridge, Adobe Lightroom, Camera RAW processors, and DAMS products.
Understanding of digital asset lifecycle: capture, formats and codecs, metadata, color management, file conversion, dissemination, etc.
Excellent organizational, analytical, time-management, and problem-solving skills necessary.
Excellent written, oral, and visual communication proficiencies necessary. Must be able to explain technical issues to non-technical users.
Media Librarian (French Services), CBC, Quebec City
Reporting to the Manager, Gathering and Deployment, you will select, analyze, index, preserve, research and manage audio and visual documents in accordance with the accepted rules and principles of library and information sciences, as well as with Corporation standards and policies.
Copyright Support Specialist, York University, Toronto
Reporting to the Director eServices, this position provides support to faculty, staff and students on matters related to copyright compliance and obtaining copyright permissions. This role assists in the administration and maintenance of copyright licences for use of third party materials in on-campus course materials, online, blended or experiential learning courses offered at York University. This role liaises with faculty, library staff, external rights holders and publishers to verify copyright information, obtain appropriate permissions, acts as a resource to the York community and aids in the administration of the eLearning Services unit.
Curatorial Assistant, City of Markham, ON
Applications are now being accepted on line at http://www.markham.ca for the Curatotial Collections Assistant position in the Museum, Culture Services Department, Community and Fire Services Commission at http://www.markham.ca. To qualify for this position, applicants must be a current student who is registered with and meets the eligibility requirements of Young Canada Works.
The role of the Curatorial Collections Assistant within the Markham Museum is to assist with the day to day curatorial tasks. The curatorial function develops, manages and documents collections, and conceptualizes and develops exhibitions.
This is a short term contract to assist with development of complimentary materials for an exhibition opening in mid-January 2015 on the theme of immigration. Contract is for 180 hours and is to be completed by December 31, 2014.
Metadata Specialist, University of Calgary Libraries
Libraries and Cultural Resources is a uniquely varied environment for a metadata specialist, including an ARL library, museum, institutional and research archives, an institutional repository and a university press. Metadata services are provided for all parts of LCR and we are committed to a converged collaborative operation with a focus on enhancing access to digital and primary source collections.
The Metadata and Collections Librarian plays an active role in the ongoing work of the Technical Services team and is responsible for cataloging material in all formats including digital resources and special collections material. This position will work closely with colleagues to evaluate and document policies, procedures and workflows for cataloging, database maintenance and non-MARC metadata creation within the library. In addition to metadata creation and maintenance, this position will participate in the selection of print and digital material for Watson library, and serves as the point person for the management of the Robert Lehman Library. This librarian will participate in additional library initiatives including reference, digitization, instruction, social media, and assessment.
The Art Libraries Society/North America (ARLIS/NA) and the Visual
Resources Association Foundation (VRAF) are pleased to announce the
Samuel H. Kress Foundation Summer Educational Institute Scholarships for
The Samuel H. Kress Foundation, http://www.kressfoundation.org/, has
generously agreed to sponsor five scholarships for the 2012 Summer
Educational Institute. SEI 2012 will be held at the University of New
Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, June 19-22, 2012. The intensive three and a
half-day workshop will feature a curriculum that specifically addresses
the requirements of today’s professional, and will include hands-on and
lecture modules. Expert instructors will cover intellectual property
rights, digital imaging, metadata and cataloguing, and strategic
planning. Attendees will also have an opportunity to discuss and
brainstorm on a range of issues, from new media and marketing visual
resources to professional development and the future of the profession
during the interactive SEI ThinkCamp session planned for the final
morning of SEI.
Kress Summer Educational Institute Scholarship recipients will each
receive $770 for tuition, room, and incidentals.
If you are interested in applying for a Samuel H. Kress Foundation
Summer Educational Institute Scholarship, information can be found on
2012 website: http://sei.vrafoundation.org/kress2012.html