I think it would be fair to say that those responsible for visual resources within a library setting do a wide variety of related tasks as well. Whether this is copyright advice or digitising analogue material, the role has changed significantly in recent years. With this in mind I have written a ‘Day in the Life of …’ account to share what my typical day consists of. Enjoy!
A Day in the Life of … A Digital Imaging Officer
8:50am – Arrive at work after whizzing down the A31 trying not to be distracted by the spectacular mist across the rolling countryside on the Hampshire and Surrey border.
9:00am – Sit down at my desk situated in the Digitisation Unit (DU) based in the Elaine Thomas Library, UCA Farnham. Check emails. Check the online booking system to see if a student or member of staff has booked the scanners or photography equipment in the DU. One request flags up, a 2nd year student on the Interior Architecture & Design degree course has booked the A2 scanner for 2:30 this afternoon. Answer a handful of emails, ranging from a copyright query from the SU wanting to know the legal implications of setting up a Film Club, to one from our Archivist asking if DU staff can scan some animation cels for her.
10:00 am – Digitise a VHS tape on the encoder. An academic has requested a TV programme from the early 1990s, a television adaptation of The Duchess of Malfi, needed for a teaching session on the Creative Writing course. VHS has already been retrieved from the library collection and once digitised will be accessible via our streaming service. (We still have a collection of over 7000 VHS!!!!).
11:00 am – Coffee from the new library coffee cart!
11:10 am – With digital camera in tow, head down to the university gallery to photograph the current exhibition. Once photographed return to the DU and upload the images to the University’s image database. Add metadata.
12:00 pm – Meeting with library staff responsible for providing accessible copies to students with disabilities. Discussed proposed changes to Disability Support Allowance (DSA) and also discussed related changes in UK copyright law that now permit more formats to be adapted for accessibility reasons.
1:00 pm – Lunch.
2.00 pm – Having received a query from an academic, investigate ways of digitising microfilm on the Internet.
2:30 pm – Student arrives to use the A2 scanner. Give brief induction. Student wants to scan some large-scale inspiration boards she has been working on with her fellow students.
3.00 pm – Digitise microcassettes for the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). As well as supporting UCA students and staff, the DU manages a commercial enterprise called Access Digital http://www.access-digital.co/. Recently we took on a large-scale job for MERL, digitising microcassettes that hold interviews with Samuel Beckett’s family and closest friends. The interviews discuss the poet and playwright’s life in great detail. These microcassettes had previously been unavailable to researchers as there are no facilities at MERL to play these tapes. Furthermore, from a preservation perspective, these analogue tapes will eventually deteriorate and MERL were keen to safe guard the collection. The revenue generated from this project is invested back into the DU and consequently contributes to supporting students and staff at UCA.
4:30 pm – Having received a list of forthcoming TV broadcasts that the Collection Development Librarian would like recorded, I program our in-house streaming service to record over the weekend.
5:00 pm – Save all digital files to the DU network drive as well as the local drives. Switch off all the equipment.
5:15 pm – Head for home.
Lisa Moore has worked at UCA University Library for over five years specialising in visual resources. Prior to working at UCA she was employed by the Surrey History Centre digitising archives for preservation and archive reasons. While working at SHC Lisa also received comprehensive training in the correct handling of archive material. Lisa comes from an arts background having attained a 1st class degree in Three Dimensional Design and a masters in Contemporary Craft at The Surrey Institute of Art and Design. Lisa is currently studying by distance learning for a PgDip in Library and Information Studies from Aberystwyth University. Follow on Twitter @UCAdigitisation.
Thank you for this, Lisa. I enjoyed reading this and would like to see more from others.
As it happens, this was quite relevant to what I am thinking about this morning. In response to an inquiry on the Visual Resources Association’s listserv about what we call our facilities, I just wrote this:
We’re the Visual Resources Center. While we do have a multimedia collection (including video and some audio), we offer a suite of resources and services related to images and imaging. These include self-service imaging stations, a portfolio photography space, an equipment room with circulating equipment for the creation and documentation of creative and scholarly work, etc. We also offer training in image research, creation, use, etc., and do image and document scanning for faculty and students. I have considered what the most meaningful name for our facility might be, and have decided that for us, for now anyway, “visual resources” is the most all encompassing term. We are more than a collection, and not all of our resources are digital. For our local purposes (and for our profession, actually), I prefer to reimagine what “visual resources” means rather than rebranding what we do through a new name. Regardless of which way you go, it takes ongoing outreach to our constituents to let them know what we can do for them.
I have total admiration for what you guys do… it is high time this was recognised, your role in the university is as integral as your colleagues in academia. Thank you for supporting both the courses and the students.