Digital Images in Teaching and Learning at York University: Are the Libraries Meeting the Needs of Faculty Members in Fine Arts?

Mary Kandiuk, Aaron Lupton


Objective – This study assessed the needs for digital image delivery to faculty members in Fine Arts at York University in order to ensure that future decisions regarding the provision of digital images offered through commercial vendors and licensed by the Libraries meet the needs of teaching faculty.

Methods – The study was comprised of four parts. A Web survey was distributed to 62 full-time faculty members in the Faculty of Fine Arts in February of 2011. A total of 25 responses were received. Follow-up interviews were conducted with nine faculty members. Usage statistics were examined for licensed library image databases. A request was posted on the electronic mail lists of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS-L) and the Art Libraries Society of North America Canada Chapter (CARLIS-L) in April 2011 requesting feedback regarding the use of licensed image databases. There were 25 responses received.

Results – Licensed image databases receive low use and pose pedagogical and technological challenges for the majority of the faculty members in Fine Arts that we surveyed. Relevant content is the overriding priority, followed by expediency and convenience, which take precedence over copyright and cleared permissions, resulting in a heavy reliance on Google Images Search.

Conclusions – The needs of faculty members in Fine Arts who use digital images in their teaching at York University are not being met. The greatest shortcomings of licensed image databases provided by the Libraries are the content and technical challenges, which impede the ability of faculty to fully exploit them. Issues that need to be resolved include the lack of contemporary and Canadian content, training and support, and organizational responsibility for the provision of digital images and support for the use of digital images.


digital images; teaching; fine arts; image databases; ARTstor; CAMIO; York University; York University Libraries

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