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$900,000 NSF grant to support online catalog of moving images

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The Rutgers University Libraries, along with technology leaders at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Washington, have been awarded a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build the first comprehensive online catalog of film, television and digital video images.

Moving Image Collections will be the first online catalog in the nation to gather catalogs of moving images from a wide variety of sources and integrate them into one reference resource accessible over the Internet. The project will focus on catalogs of images that can help convey scientific concepts to students from kindergarten through graduate school.

Rutgers will design the online catalog database, including descriptive information for educators, that will allow users to search through a vast array of existing moving-image catalogs, regardless of how those catalogs are organized. Under the direction of Grace Agnew, the principal investigator and associate university librarian for digital library systems at the Rutgers University Libraries, Rutgers also will oversee the development of other components of the project.

Co-investigators are W. Edward Price, research director of the Interactive Media Technology Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and James DeRoest, the University of Washington's assistant director of university computing services. Price's team will design the interactive Web site, search engine and display capabilities for the project. DeRoest and colleagues will design and implement the archives directory database, which will offer direct access to the moving images.

The Moving Image Collections project will catalog science-related moving images held by a variety of organizations, including archives, libraries, museums and corporations. The catalog will be made available to teachers and students through a broadly accessible Web portal that will allow users to conduct highly targeted searches and create customized displays. It will be developed over two years in close collaboration with the Library of Congress and the Association of Moving Image Archivists.

"Moving images engage all the senses and create a vivid, memorable educational experience," said Agnew, co-author of the book "Getting Mileage Out of Metadata" and a frequent lecturer on database and digital-rights management, digital video and digital imaging. "Our goal is to make it simple for an educator – first-grade teacher or university professor – to identify, locate and use the right moving image to dramatically underscore a classroom lesson."

The project is part of the National Science Foundation's Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education Digital Library initiative, a Web portal for science educators and students. In 2004, the project will move to the Library of Congress, where it will be expanded to include national and international moving image collections in every subject and physical format.

Joseph J. Seneca, university vice president for academic affairs, called the project "an exciting example of Rutgers Libraries continuing to embrace new technologies and creatively providing powerful applications for a diverse range of users, both inside the academy and to the community at large."

In its initial phase, the project will provide access to more than 80,000 scientific images from such U.S. archives as the Library of Congress, Cable News Network, National Geographic Television, the National Library of Medicine, the Oregon Health and Sciences University, the University of Washington's Research Channel and the Smithsonian Institution. Moving Image Collections will also provide a searchable directory of organizations that collect moving images worldwide.

The project has been a collaboration with the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) since its inception. "For the first time, the archivist community has the opportunity to bring together all of its moving images and make them widely available," said AMIA President Sam Kula.

Rutgers University Librarian Marianne Gaunt agrees that the project will provide a much-needed resource. "As university libraries expand their digital offerings and incorporate data from diverse sources and in multiple forms, dynamic portals, such as Moving Image Collections, will be needed to make these digital resources both accessible and useful for our patrons," she said.

The Library of Congress will be the permanent host site for Moving Image Collections after its development. "Moving Image Collections will serve as an engine for national and international collaborations," said Beacher Wiggins, acting associate librarian for library services at the Library of Congress. "This integrated directory and catalog will be an invaluable resource for critical moving-image collections – a significant yet endangered part of our recorded culture."

Interest in the Moving Image Collections project extends beyond the classroom. Noted film critic and historian Leonard Maltin remarked, "Film researchers, archivists and buffs around the world have been eagerly awaiting the day when one could determine, easily and definitively, which films exist and where. It's high time for this project to come to fruition."

Posted November 21, 2002