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VADS annual report 1997 - 1998
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The Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) has two complementary goals: the first is to archive electronic information for the higher education community in the visual arts, and to provide access to these digital resources for this community; and the second is to establish and promote standards of best practice for digital research data through our programme of workshops, publications and outreach activities.

In order to achieve these aims, VADS is working collaboratively with the visual arts, museums and cultural heritage community. These communities provide examples of current and best practice which directly feed into VADS standards documentation, guidelines and publications, and also provide the digital collections to which VADS will provide on-line access. In turn, VADS works with data creators to provide guidance about the most appropriate methods of creating, managing and preserving digital resources. VADS is also committed to working with other agencies who are engaged in the process of facilitating the creation and use of digital resources in the higher education community.

The first year of operation of the Visual Arts Data Service has coincided with a period of rapid evolution in the level and extent of the visual arts communities engagement with digital resources which tends to reinforce the need for an agency such as VADS to facilitate this process and archive data suitable for re-use. VADS role therefore is a complex one which involves working with data creators to ensure that mature and standards compliant resources are available for re-use in the next few years and also to promote the importance of archiving and preserving existing data. In conjunction with other services VADS also has a role in highlighting the possible uses of digital resources in research and teaching, documenting current practice and encouraging re-use. While at present many of the scenarios in which digital resources are used are primarily experimental, it is envisaged that frameworks for the use of such resources will emerge and that they will become part of existing teaching and information delivery practices. One significant and important element of VADS role in the past year has clearly been the shaping of this process of evolution.

The Visual Arts Data Service was officially launched on 3rd March 1997 when the full-time VADS officer began in post. Prior to this the VADS organisation and technical infrastructure including website and mailbase lists had been set up by the ADAM and VADS Programme Leader. VADS inauguration at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College last year was the result of a successful bid to the AHDS by a consortium of four higher education institutions: University of Newcastle and Northumbria; Glasgow School of Art; University of the West of England and Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College. These four organisations are represented on the Executive Committee of our Advisory Group. At its inauguration, a commitment to collaborate with two other JISC funded services was made and both these services are represented on our Executive Committee. VADS has therefore developed a fruitful partnership with both Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI) at Bristol University and the JISC Image Digitisation Initiative (JIDI - formerly known as the Knowledge Gallery) who are also involved with developing and enhancing access to digital images for higher education. VADS also has a very close relationship with the ELIB funded ADAM Project (Art, Design, Architecture and Media Information Gateway) with which it shares some staffing, technical support and infrastructure.

The Director of VADS is Marion Wilks (Head of Academic Services) at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College, the service has been managed in year one by Tony Gill (ADAM and VADS Programme Leader) and latterly by Catherine Grout (VADS Project Manager) originally VADS Officer before the re-grading of the post. Janine Rymer is the full-time VADS Officer and was appointed in the Autumn of 1997 as the result of a successful bid to the JISC for funding to bring VADS funding to the level of other AHDS Service Providers, Mark Burrell (the ADAM technical officer) provides part-time technical support for VADS.

VADS offers services both to those who are creating digital resources and also to those who are using digital resources within a research, teaching and learning environment.

Services to data creators include one to one visits to work with those planning or involved in digitisation projects. VADS has advised on a variety of topics in the past year including the use of resource discovery metadata, data documentation standards, selection of hardware, software and formats and also storage and preservation strategies. More formal guidelines on these topics are available on our website in a series of reports. This information will also be synthesised and presented in an accessible manner in our Guides to Good Practice. Two of these Guides, Why Invest in the digitisation of visual art material? and Creating and managing digital information for the visual arts: standards and best practice are particularly aimed at data creators. In addition, VADS provides specific documentation, a Collections Policy which outlines our areas of interest and collections' building strategy and a Depositors Pack, and data transfer form to allow data creators to prepare resources for deposit with the service.

Services to users include a programme of workshops and training events. VADS staff have made presentations to potential users of the service at a variety of higher education institutions over the past year. In addition this year we are running a series of workshops which are based on the understanding we have gained in our first year of operation about those topics which are of the greatest concern within the community. Aside from our User Needs Workshop in April 1998, our first workshop in 1998 will be on Copyright Law and will examine scenarios particularly relevant to higher education (9th June, in London). Our second workshop will give hands-on experience of image processing and building simple image databases (Autumn 1998). Both these workshops are being organised in conjunction with the Technical Advisory Service for Images. In addition, our third Guide to Good Practice, Using digital information in teaching and learning in the visual arts is specifically targeted at users who wish to develop the use and re-use of digital resources for personal research or teaching purposes. VADS' commitment to identifying user needs and moulding our service to those requirements is highlighted by the VADS User Needs survey which was conducted from December 97 to February 98 and the workshop which followed it in April this year.

VADS services are available on an 24 hour basis via our Internet server. VADS Staff are available from Monday to Friday 9.30 am - 6 pm. If we are not available in person, messages are recorded on our voice mail system. Our service targets are to respond to all inquiries within 7 working days. Our Internet server is shared with the ADAM Project and is maintained by Mark Burrell the ADAM technical officer at University of Northumbria at Newcastle. Most network problems should be solved within 24 hours.

VADS is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee via the Arts and Humanities Data Service, and benefits from infrastructure support from the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College. It has use of free office space at the Institute and shares a webserver with the ADAM Project. The web server, Eden, is maintained and housed at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, with technical support from Mark Burrell the ADAM technical Officer. In July 1997 VADS, as a result of a successful bid to the AHDS Steering Committee, was awarded additional funding to bring VADS to the funding level of other AHDS Service Providers. This funding will cover the period up to the end of February 2000. This additional funding allowed us to recruit a further member of staff, Janine Rymer (VADS officer) in October 1997, and also to enter into a more permanent contract for technical support with Mark Burrell at UNN.

VADS has a constortial structure which is reflected throughout its organisation. The four organisations which make up the VADS partnership (Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College lead partner, University of the West of England*, Glasgow School of Art and University of Northumbria at Newcastle) are each represented on the Executive Committee of its Advisory Group which meets three times a year. In addition, a member representing JIDI and TASI were both elected to the committee at the inauguration of the Service. The Advisory Group also has other members who, although not on the Executive Committee, receive privileged information via the Advisory Group mailbase list about VADS operation and development. These members of the wider group are influential individuals from a cross-section of higher education, museums and cultural heritage organisations whose role is to advise, and promote the service in are variety of ways.

*Since March, UWE have resigned from the VADS consortium; a replacement member of the committee and possibly an additional member to reflect VADS increased scale and extent of operations since its inauguration last year are currently being elected.

VADS Advisory Group Executive Committee:

Chair: Marion Wilks, Surrey Institute of Art and Design

Please see Section XII Appendix A for additional information

VADS Advisory Group Members:

Please see Section XII Appendix B for additional information

VADS Guide Editorial Board:

John McKay (Glasgow School of Art) VADS Advisory Group Executive Committee member

Marion Wilks (Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College) VADS Advisory Group Executive Committee Chair

Marilyn Deegan (Oxford University, Refugee Studies Programme) VADS Advisory Group Executive Committee member

Tony Gill (Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College) ADAM and VADS Programme Leader

Alan Lock (Bristol University) Technical Research Officer, ILRT

VADS Staff:

Director: Marion Wilks
Marion Wilks is Head of Academic Services at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College and has over all responsibility for the direction of the Service.

ADAM and VADS Programme Leader: (0.1 fte) Tony Gill
Tony Gill has responsibility for the strategic direction and management of the service including management of resources. He has also taken a lead role in out reach promotion and liaison activities*

VADS Project Manager :Catherine Grout (1.0 fte - formerly VADS Officer)
Catherine Grout has been responsible for the day to day management of the service. This has included a variety of activities among them authoring policy documents, standards development, promotion, dissemination and liaison. Since March 1998, Catherine is also Chair of the AHDS Web Working Group.

*Since the beginning April 1998 Catherine Grout has taken over from Tony Gill as manager of VADS, which includes resource management and strategic direction. 

VADS Officer: Janine Rymer (1.0 fte)
Janine was appointed in October 1998 and assists the Project Manager with the operation and development of all aspects of the service, currently she has special responsibility for administration and publicity.

Technical Operation:

VADS staff use Pentium PC’s running Windows 95 on a daily basis. They also have use of the network at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College, and benefit from space on a shared network drive. The web server, which hosts the VADS web presence and will also host the on-line catalogue, is a UNIX-based DEC Alpha 1000 4/266 machine shared with ADAM, based at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle.

A. On-Line Help Facilities

The VADS website includes regularly updated information of interest to a broad spectrum of users from data creators, to those interested in developing their use of digital resources, to stakeholders and other services. Information on our website is currently divided into four categories:

About VADS provides vital background information about the organisation and staffing of the service and over views of our development (available in progress reports).

VADS Services contains information by type of user i.e. archiving services (this includes a Depositor's guidelines and Deposit Licence), information to stakeholders, and information for general users.

Training, Publications and Case Studies, this provides information about our Guides to Good Practice, our training and outreach programme and also features case studies and reviews of current projects and digital resources of interest to the community.

Standards guidelines, currently provides reports on a number of key issues of interest to the community: on resource discovery metadata for the visual arts, data documentation standards of relevance and copyright guidelines produced in conjunction with the Technical Advisory Service for Images. This category will increase rapidly this year with the electronic publication of the results of our user needs survey and user needs workshop.

VADS has recently commissioned a graphic designer to provide templates for a new look and structure for our website. It is hoped that this will streamline access to this growing body of informational material and will also enhance and raise our profile with the visually literate and visually conscious community that we represent.

B. Documentation

In addition to the reports available on our website (which are also available in paper form if requested), VADS is involved in producing four titles in the AHDS Guides to Good Practice series. These are: Guide 1 - Creating digital information for the visual arts: standards and best practice, Guide 2 - Why invest in the digitisation of visual arts material? (both produced in conjunction with the Technical Advisory Service for Images) and Guide 3 - Using digital information in teaching and learning in the visual arts (a commission accepted by CTI Art and Design). The fourth Guide is a cross-disciplinary guide to Virtual Reality, VADS has been steering the election of a working group to produce this guide in conjunction with the Networked Virtual Reality Centre for Art and Design (NVRCAD) at Coventry University.

C. Personal Help Facilities

VADS staff are available to help individual users by either Email, fax, phone, or post from 9:30 - 6 pm Monday to Friday or voice mail outside office hours. We also have a specific e-mail address for enquiries, info@vads.ahds.ac.uk, which are posted to all team members, we have a commitment to respond to these enquiries in seven working days.

A. Advisory Group

The VADS advisory group ensures effective representation and strategic direction for members of the visual arts, cultural heritage and museums community. The Executive Committee currently has 8 members, while the wider membership of the group is 14. There are currently plans to extend this membership by 15-20 people as a result of nominations from the existing group. This is also a reflection of the increase in the scale and extent of VADS activities over the past year, which makes is crucial to ensure the wide representation and involvement of the community in the future development of the Service.

B. Workshops

VADS has been very active in implementing and planning workshops for the community in the past year. We have recognised a clear need from our community to deliver information and stimulate discussion about certain key topics, and workshops have proved an effective forum to achieve this.

The Service held its first workshop on resource discovery metadata and the Dublin Core very soon after the launch of the service in March 1997. This workshop identified strategic issues for the use of Dublin Core in a visual arts and museums context and stimulated much lively discussion which was then assimilated into a report which was widely circulated, both nationally and internationally.

We have planned a series of workshops for 1998, three in total, which makes this a very intensive area of our activity. The first is our User Needs Workshop on 28th, 29th April in Edinburgh, which will extrapolate from the findings of the National Expert Workshop and will also examine the results of our User Needs Survey (see D. below). Our second workshop of the year will be on Copyright (9th June in London), and is organised in collaboration with the Technical Advisory Service for Images. This workshop is already over subscribed and we are considering the possibility of a second such workshop at a later date organised by ourselves or another agency. This is a clear indication of the high level of interest and concern about electronic and image copyright within the visual arts community. We are also planning a third workshop on image digitisation and databases which will give users a hands-on introduction to the practical and theoretical challenges involved in building a digital archive.

C. Outreach and training events

Our outreach and training events in the past year have been divided into three types of activities:

a) One to one visits by members of the VADS team to organisations interested in developing or managing their digital collections, for example:

bullet16 January 1998, Catherine Grout and Janine Rymer attended a series of meetings at the Courtauld Institute with Tim Ayres, (Corpus Medii Vitrearum), Michael Evans (RCHME) and Jan Darke (PMSA) to discuss the development of these digital collections.
bullet26 March 1998, Janine Rymer visited the Imperial War Museum to discuss the deposit of their art image database.

b) Presentations to small groups at educational institutions to provide background information about VADS and the services it offers, for example:

bullet"Digitising Documents and Images" Seminar at Oxford University Humanities Computing Unit (29th July 1997) Presentation on VADS (Catherine Grout)
bulletPresentation on VADS by Catherine Grout and Janine Rymer at Camberwell College of Arts at a Teaching and Learning Technology Day (16 March 1998)

C) Conference and workshop presentations either on VADS, or on key topics of interest for example implementing digitisation projects, or locating and using networked art and design resources, for example:

bulletEVA London Conference (26th June 1997): "Standards and Quality for Art on the Internet"(Tony Gill) "Using visual techniques for retrieval in networked art image databases" (Catherine Grout and Professor William Vaughan)
bulletCHart Conference (5th, 6th September 1997 ): "The Visual Arts Data Service: Curating electronic information for the millennium"(Catherine Grout)
bulletPresentation on VADS' role in the delivery of networked art and design resources at a NETSKILLS workshop in Newcastle (18th March 1998) by Catherine Grout and Janine Rymer.

D. User Needs Survey

The electronic version of our survey was launched on the VADS website on 1st December 1997. It was available until 1st February 1998. 230 paper surveys were also sent out on request to various institutions or individuals. We received a total of 110 responses.

Primarily the survey was intended to supply VADS with the maximum amount of relevant information from its user and depositor communities while not exceeding available resources.

It was intended to facilitate the setting up and development of the service in three crucial respects:

bulletTo help us understand more about how electronic resources are being used now by members of our community
bullet

To help us target the services of VADS more closely to the community’s electronic information provision, creation and management needs

bulletTo help us build up an accurate picture of what digital resources have been already been created by the community; how they are being used; and what we can do to help maximise the investment in these resources.

The results of the survey were fed into a database and statistical analysis of the results has taken place, these results will be published on the VADS website in the next month* and will feed directly into our User Needs Workshop Report and will form part of the appendix for our Interim Evaluation report. Owing to its scale and sampling, rather than "catch-all" methodology, the results of this Survey are perhaps more interesting for the qualitative rather than quantitative analysis they provide and the level of insight they give into the communities current level of engagement with digital resources.

*Our User Needs Survey Report is now available on this site

A. Collections Development

Deposits scheduled for accessioning (as of March 1998)

bulletImperial War Museum image database
bulletZone Gallery (mirror)
bulletToyota Project (virtual)
bullet

Internet Library of Early Journals (virtual)

bullet

Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture

Deposits in negotiation or discussion for deposit with VADS (as of March 1998)

bullet

DIAD

bullet

ITEM (Image Technology in Museums)

bulletBridgeman Art Library Image Collections (pilot)
bulletAXIS
bullet

Corpus Vitrearum

bulletCOLDIP (Corporation of London Data Imaging Project) Project (virtual)
bullet

Information base for the European Illustration Collection (virtual)

bulletLive Art Archive
bulletCompendium of Pevsner's Buildings of England (virtual)
bullet

Iconographic Collection Videodisc Database

bullet

The feminist grotesque, the sublime a reconciliation (Leverhulme Grant 1996)

B. User Queries

VADS receives an average of 3 enquiries per week. These range from general enquiries from those interested in using digital data in research and teaching, to those contemplating the possibility of depositing data with the service, to specific enquiries about our activities, particularly workshops. Some of these enquiries are routed to us by other AHDS Service Providers and other agencies with whom we are collaborating. These enquiries are received either by phone or e-mail.

C. Web Usage Statistics

1n 1997 our highest rate of traffic was in November and December 1997 which coincided with the launch of the electronic version of our User Needs Survey, this high response rate has remained in 1998 with monthly requests approaching 2,000 January to April.

D. Workshops

The workshops held in the last year have generated a very high level of interest from the community:

Our Visual Arts, Museums and Cultural Heritage Metadata Workshop in March 1997 was attended by 23 delegates, from that number an editorial board of four delegates was elected who actively participated in the workshop report and recommendations. These recommendations for the use of Dublin Core metadata within a visual arts and museums context stimulated many responses, from both national and international organisations.

The VADS User Needs Workshop on 28th/29th April 1998 also in Edinburgh, was attended by 22 delegates, and once an open invitation had been issued was over subscribed. A Copyright Workshop with TASI planned for the 9th June 1998 in London has so far had over 30 bookings for the 20 places available, this will probably lead to us organising a further workshop on this subject in the next year.

The past year has seen the establishment of the key mechanisms i.e. resourcing, infrastructure and dissemination mechanisms, and also the strategic documentation and planning activities which will allow VADS to become fully operational service over the next year. This first year has therefore seen very intensive activity in all aspects of service development, however, the following are particularly noteworthy:

Recruitment

In October 1998, we recruited Janine Rymer as the full-time VADS officer. This doubled our full-time members of staff, (we were the last of the Service Providers to gain our full team quotient). Our level of human resourcing has therefore had a considerable impact on the nature and scale of our operations in the past year, which were probably slightly below that of other Service Providers in the first part of 1997, but have since been increasing rapidly since the autumn of 1997.

Collaboration

In the past year we have established and developed a number of extremely valuable partnerships with services operating within the HE community who are also involved with facilitating the creation, use and management of digital information within the visual arts. With the Technical Advisory Service for Images we have shared a number of activities including conference sessions and other workshop and training events and perhaps most significantly we are sharing the production of documentation on key topics relating to digital images which will be published formally in our Guides to Good Practice (two of which are authored jointly with TASI). We are also sharing with TASI the development of a generic framework for the development, management and delivery of digital resources in particular images, these activities have fed directly into the development of the JISC Image Digitisation Initiative which is guiding the digitisation of key collections for delivery to HE (VADS team members are represented on the implementation group of JIDI). Another key collaborator is the CTI Centre for Art and Design with whom we have shared training events and workshops for the community, and have also commissioned to author our third Guide to Good Practice which focuses on the applications of technology to teaching and learning in the visual arts. Similarly, we are working closely with the Networked Virtual Reality Centre for Art and Design and are leading a working group in collaboration with them to establish a cross disciplinary Guide to Good Practice on Virtual Reality. We are also collaborating with Edinburgh Data and Information Access (EDINA) particularly regarding their role as delivering the H.W. Wilson Art Abstracts and also in the identification of user needs. VADS is also a part of the Pavilion Group an informal collective of projects and initiatives whose broad aims are to support and enhance teaching and learning in art and design in higher education through the application of information technology.

Establishment of consultancy and advisory role

We have found that one of the most rewarding aspects of our role in the past year has been facilitating the development of various projects who are actively engaged in the digitisation of visual arts material. We have assisted a number of organisations with developing funding bids and provided advice on key topics such as copyright, metadata and digital preservation. We feel that this role is particularly important as it is only by actively advising on the application of standards and the development of good practice for data creators that resources of a high quality will become available for higher education in years to come.

Reports and Standards Guidelines

This year we have produced some of the key documentation through which we are promoting and establishing good practice for the community in the creation, management, delivery and preservation of digital information. Of particular note are our survey of domain specific data documentation standards Visual Arts, Museums and Cultural Heritage Information Standards and our Visual Arts, Museums and Cultural Heritage Metadata Workshop Report which provided far reaching recommendations about the applicability of the Dublin Core as a metadata standard for our community. Key documentation in the next phase will be the electronic publication of the revised and extended version of the VADS/TASI copyright guidelines and our User Needs Survey and User Needs Workshop Reports which will provide a very significant corpus of information on current practice and recommended future strategy for the development and use of digital resources.

Survey

A significant achievement this year was the implementation and subsequent analysis of the results of our User Needs Survey, carried out between December 1997 and February 1998. We feel that this will be a strategic document for three reasons
Firstly, it provides a snapshot of current practice concerning the communities level of engagement with digital resources, secondly, it will contain a synthesis of the VADS results with those of other key surveys carried out within the higher education community (i.e. those of CTIAD, ADAM and PADS) and finally it will provide us with vital information about how we should prioritise our services in order to take account of the user needs that were registered.

Publicity

In early February 1998 we began the process of commissioning a graphic designer to provide a new face for the service (this will involve a new logo, leaflet, poster and template for website design). We feel this to be a particularly worthwhile exercise as it will allow us to improve our interface with the community in two key respects: firstly by providing easily digestible information which would clarify and emphasise our role; and secondly by providing a more visually oriented and design-led face for the service which should appeal directly to our community without deviating substantially from existing corporate identity.

A. VADS mailbase list

vads@mailbase.ac.uk is an open list for discussion topics and delivery of information relating to the Visual Arts Data Service. Currently this list has 45 members, the majority of which, 31, are from the UK academic domain, while the remaining are a combination of those with UK commercial Internet access, commercial access from indeterminate countries, North American academics, and UK government employees.

B. Conference/Workshop/Seminar Papers Given
Conference Papers
bulletEVA London Conference (26th June 1997):
"Standards and Quality for Art on the Internet"(Tony Gill)
"Using visual techniques for retrieval in networked art image databases" (Catherine Grout and Professor William Vaughan)
bulletCHart Conference (5th, 6th September 1997 ):
"The Visual Arts Data Service: Curating electronic information for the millennium"(Catherine Grout)
bulletMESH Conference: Multimedia Education Showcase (1st October 1998)
"The Visual Arts Data Service: Into a new era of digital information provision" (Catherine Grout)

Seminar/Workshop Papers or presentations given

bulletSeminar at Oxford University Humanities Computing Unit "Digitising Documents and Images" (29th July 1997) Presentation on VADS (Catherine Grout)
bulletCamberwell College of Arts Learning Technology Day (16 March 1998) presentation on VADS (Catherine Grout and Janine Rymer)
bulletNETSKILLS  Art and Design Workshop (18th March 1998) presentation on VADS' role in the delivery of art and design resources (Catherine Grout and Janine Rymer)

VADS is developing four titles in the AHDS Guides to Good Practice Series:

bulletGuide 1: Creating digital information for the visual arts: standards and best practice (VADS/TASI)
bullet

Guide 2: Why invest in the digitisation of visual arts material? (VADS/TASI)

bulletGuide 3: Using digital information in teaching and learning in the visual arts (CTIAD accepted commission)
bulletCross Disciplinary Virtual Reality Guide for the arts and humanities (Working Group lead by VADS and NVRCAD)
bullet

The first three titles will become available as electronic publications between Christmas and the Spring of 1999. The Virtual Reality Guide is at a much earlier stage in its life cycle but may expect to be published toward the end of 1999.

 
D. Publications

EVA London Conference Proceedings (26th June 1997)

Standards and Quality for Art on the Internet (Tony Gill)

Using visual techniques for retrieval in networked art image databases (Catherine Grout and Professor William Vaughan)

Art Libraries Journal (July 1997)
Finding and preserving visual arts resources on the internet (Tony Gill and Catherine Grout)

CHart Conference (5th, 6th September 1997):
The Visual Arts Data Service: Curating electronic information for the millennium (Catherine Grout)

Proceedings of DRH Conference(14th - 17th September 1997):
Forthcoming services for creators and users of electronic information in the visual arts
( three papers on VADS and TASI by Tony Gill, Catherine Grout and Jane Williams.)

Outline, (CTIAD magazine) Issue 4: Autumn 1997
The Visual Arts Data Service (Catherine Grout)

Surrey Institute Newsletter (Spring 1998)
Article introducing the Visual Arts Data Service plus team photo (Catherine Grout)

DC5: the search for Santa. Ariadne 12. (Paul Miller and Tony Gill)

E. Publicity Materials

In the past year we have disseminated approximately 500 leaflets about VADS Services, 500 Depositor's Packs and 200 AHDS packs at a variety of conferences, seminars, meetings and outreach events for the community. In addition 230 paper copies of our User Needs Survey were distributed.

VADS team members, particularly Tony Gill, have been responsible for ensuring that the work of VADS, where appropriate, is represented at an international as well as national level. In particular VADS has been actively participating in the development of international metadata and documentation standards. For example in October 1997 Tony Gill attended the 5th Dublin Core workshop, Helsinki, at which the results of the AHDS/UKOLN workshop series were announced. Following this, the results of the AHDS/UKOLN Metadata Workshop series and the AHDS' proposed use of Dublin Core in a cross-domain resource discovery context were also outlined at a series of presentations by Tony in the US sponsored by the Getty Information Institute:

bulletPresentation about Dublin Core, the applications of metadata and the AHDS/UKOLN workshop series at a CIMI members meeting in St Louis, USA. (14th October 1997)
bulletParticipation as panel member in the 'Data Standards Initiatives and Projects Open Forum' at the Museum Computer Network 1997 conference, St Louis. Gave introduction to Dublin Core presentation. (15th-18th October 1997)
bullet

Participation as panel member in the 'Accessing Collections Information Online - A Survey of Strategies' at the Museum Computer Network 1997 conference, St Louis. Gave introduction to Dublin Core, ADAM and VADS presentation.

bulletMeetings and metadata presentations to various internal groups at the Getty Information Institute, Los Angeles. (21st and 28th October 1997)
bulletMeetings and metadata presentations to various internal groups at the Research Libraries Group, Mountain View, California. (23rd October 1997).
bulletGave Dublin Core, AHDS/UKOLN Workshop Series, ADAM and VADS presentation to 40 delegates at UC Berkeley, California. (24th October 1997

Tony Gill has also participated in discussions in the UK international information interchange and licensing initiatives, for example CIMI and AMICO and attended and AMICO briefing at the Getty Information Institute in Los Angeles. In addition, Catherine Grout has also contacted and initiated discussions with Scott Bentley of the Image Directory who are acting as a distribution and revenue channel for art image information for a number of art museums in the United States.

Our Advisory Group Executive Committee meets three times a year and steers the activities of the VADS team and the development of the service. The Executive Committee also acts as an evaluative body to assess the digital resources which are proposed for accessioning by VADS. Members of the Committee have undertaken the role of acting as the Editorial Board for our Guides to Good Practice. A list of Committee members is available in Appendix A.

The Advisory Group also has a wider membership which, although does not serve on the Committee, is privy to privileged levels of information about the Service. It encompasses a cross section of influential individuals from visual arts, museums and cultural heritage organisations who serve to advise, promote and provide effective representation and involvement of the community in the activities of VADS. For Advisory Group members see Appendix B.

Not available

Within the next six months we anticipate several key developments. First of all, we will be facing the challenge of mounting our first datasets on our server, cataloguing them and relaying them to the community via the ADAM/VADS system which is being delivered to us at present. Secondly we face the challenge of prioritising our activities and services over the past year; this will be directly informed by the results of the AHDS Interim Evaluation, User Needs Survey Report and User Needs Workshop Report. Essentially, we hope to discover some means of striking a balance between our role as a digital archiving service and our training, outreach and advisory role which is appropriate to our level of resources. We also hope to have produced drafts of our Guides to Good Practice by the Autumn which should firmly establish our reputation as providing key information to the community concerning the most appropriate methods of creating, managing, using and preserving digital information. Another significant development will be the launch of the new face for VADS which has already been referred to. We expect our new promotional and publicity materials to be delivered to us for use in the next two months and our redesigned website to become operational by the autumn. Finally, in order to ensure that our profile among the community and its diverse constituents is appropriate to the increased scale of our operations, we will be recruiting a part-time information and publicity officer to be shared with the ADAM Project. This new part-time member of the team will be responsible for disseminating our newly designed paper based materials, updating our contact database and providing essential administrative back up to both projects.

The Visual Arts Data Service will be evaluated this spring as part of the AHDS formal Interim Evaluation. This will allow us to undertake a review of the services we have been performing in the last year and should help us to prioritise our activities in the next phase and refine our strategic direction in accordance with these findings. Together with the findings of our User Needs Survey and the report from our User Needs Workshop, this should provide a very significant body of information which will allow us evaluate and review our services as a priority activity before we enter our fully operational phase.

Appendix A: Advisory Group Executive Committee members
bulletProfessor Chris Bailey, University of Northumbria at Newcastle
bulletJohn McKay, Glasgow School of Art
bulletSteve Morgan, University of the West of England (resigned March 1998)
bullet

Marion Wilk (Chair) , Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College

JISC Image Digitisation Initiative Representative:

bulletDr Marilyn Deegan, RSP Digital Library Project Refugee Studies Programme

Technical Advisory Service for Images Representative:

bulletDr Jane Williams, Institute for Learning and Research Technology University of Bristol
Appendix B: Advisory Group Members
bulletA full list of Advisory Group members as of 16th of June 1998 is available