Category Archives: digitization

Comparing Artist Book Digital Collections

Otis College of Art and Design 

  • Platform: CONTENTdm
  • Easy to access through Google search
  • Browsing and advance search capabilities
  • Additional benefit of Guided Search offering dropdown menus listing authors, presses, bindings, techniques, subjects, and book types
  • Extensive metadata
  • Clicking on thumbnail images links to multiple images of same book plus metadata
  • Can search for similar bindings, materials, and other characteristics through links BUT linking options can be overwhelming
  • Website links to videos hosted on YouTube


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

  • Platform: Shared Shelf Commons through ARTstor
  • Open access
  • ARTstor search capabilities and image viewing (zoom, print, export, etc.)
  • Each image of a book requires a separate record
  • No video or audio
  • VRA Core built into system
  • Created extensive thesaurus
  • Metadata does not provide linking which could help with browsing
  • Paid subscription (Mason already subscribes)
  • Searching: Not easy to locate through Google but listed as separate collection in Shared Shelf

Ongoing DH Project

Experimental, amusing, or beautiful, artist books are art in book form. Four years ago, we began collecting artist books for teaching and research. This non-browsing collection varies in structure, technique, and content. Our books have been used by students, faculty, and museum professionals.

Although artist books are tactile experiences, they are hidden in Special Collections for preservation and can be difficult to access through the library catalog. In order to increase accessibility, we have begun the digitization process for over 300 works. The first phase of the project will focus the 50 books by local and regional artists.

This new enhanced digital collection will include multiple images of a book. In addition, we are conducting artist interviews and creating videos to demonstrate the “reading” of an artist book which will be especially valuable for sculptural books. A unique addition is GIS mapping which is beneficial since the collection includes several items by local/regional artists. Mapping also demonstrates the relationships and collaborations between the book artists.

Behind the scenes, we are establishing metadata guidelines to improve the organization of information and accessibility. Part of this process is to create meaningful records by describing books in more detail (e.g. structure, materials). In conjunction with VRA Core, our content standards create a consistent, functional research tool. Starting with LUNA Imaging software as our digital platform, we will showcase images, audio, and video. This information will then be placed in ARTstor’s Shared Shelf to increase visibility.

Images below are of the artist book Dirty Laundry by Mason MFA student Ceci Cole McInturff.

Adapted from presentation abstract for Visual Resources and Digital Humanities (VRAlocal: Nashville 2014)