How should we define our digital image professional identity?

July 30, 2008

The recent post on VRA-L about how to define a digital image professional, and some of the responses to it, are good examples of conversations that need to be happening in our extended VR community.  In many ways, this is the pivotal question we need to ask ourselves, because others are certainly trying to define it for us.

For some of us, the link with our institutional library has long, formal standing, and our greatest difficulty has been trying to be the lone voice for images in a very verbal world.  For others, there are few, if any, ties or links to the library, and little incentive on either side to try to build them. Even within our own specialized Art Library community, there are many who have limited contact with or responsibility for day-to-day pedagogical support, digital asset management systems, or item-level image metadata.

Yet I don’t believe anyone could deny that we now share more in common with our library colleagues than we do with most of the faculty who have long been our constituency.  We do a lot of instruction in how to use resources effectively, we do a lot of reference work, we will be equally affected by major national projects like Google Books, CONA and STEVE, by Web 2.0 technologies, by centralized licensed resources, by emerging and declining disciplines in Art and Art History, by the efforts and expertise of our colleagues in Digital Library Programs, by trends to reclaim “dead” space, consolidate services and eliminate specialized collections and services.

Most of all, we share a common need to re-define ourselves, to focus on the most interesting and vital of the services and expertise we have so carefully cultivated and find creative ways to parlay that into being the visual information experts at our institutions.

We need to work together, and we need a common moniker – one that identifies an art information specialist, regardless of whether that information is visual or verbal.



One Response to “How should we define our digital image professional identity?”

  1. hoosierimage Says:

    As an addendum to my post, I’d like to point everyone to the definition of an “informationist” in Wikipedia.

    This is about the medical community, but it sounds a lot like us

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