The Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI)

Karla Youngs describes what TASI is and the work that it is doing in building a common ‘Framework’ for digital imaging projects.

The Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI) was established by the Joint Information Systems Council (JISC) to advise and support the Higher Education community on the digital creation, storage and delivery of image based information. The objectives of TASI are to:

  • share and promote technical expertise and standards within the academic and public sectors
  • enable the academic community to develop digital archives of good quality image-related materials to support effective teaching and research by providing comprehensive information and advice.

What is involved in creating a digital image archive?

Careful planning is needed when building a digital image archive, as this will allow the creation of an effective, user-friendly archive, whilst avoiding costly and time consuming mistakes. It is not (perhaps) widely recognised that digitisation of the primary source material is a small part of creating a digital archive. There are other issues that need to be considered, such as copyright clearance, metadata issues and project management that can have a severe impact on both resources and time. Decisions made at the beginning will impact on other aspects of the project and could thus jeopardise the success of the venture as a whole. It is recommended that projects undertake a feasibility study to determine cost, benchmarks and quality assurance.

TASI has identified that the ‘Framework’ which defines the creation of digital image archives can be divided into three phases:

Data Capture and Creation

Data Access and Delivery

Data Collections Management

Image handling and preparation

Search and retrieval

Database creation and system design

Image capture: hardware and software

Access management

Workflow and procedures management

Formats and compression

Quality assurance

Copyright, IPR and ethics

Project management

Metadata: indexing and cataloguing

Digital preservation: storage and archiving

Issues surrounding resource capture/creation, resource delivery/access and collections management all need to be considered before widening the discussion to the ways in which such resource material can be effectively used to support teaching and research. Whilst some of these issues are obvious, experience has shown that all too often critical issues are neglected during the early stages of such a project thus jeopardising the long-term use of digital resources.

What is TASI doing?

Having identified the key areas for consideration, TASI is developing the ‘Framework’ to provide comprehensive advice on building an image archive. In the course of this development, TASI carries out a number of activities:

  • the production of a card/resource pack
  • visiting and documenting projects for current and/or best practice
  • promoting and encouraging the adoption of good working practices via resource pack, workshops and seminars
  • providing an information and resource server (WWW site)
  • providing a sign posting service to digital image resources and other useful information and services

The Warwick Workshop

One workshop that has helped the development of the TASI ‘Framework’ was held in Warwick in June 1998. This ‘Digital Image Library Workshop’ bought together representatives from 18 digital imaging projects to discuss five main themes:

  1. Criteria for Selection
  2. Digitisation
  3. Digital Preservation
  4. Managing Access to Digital Image Resources
  5. Planning and Managing the Digitisation Chain

From these discussions the digital imaging community recognised that there were areas of strength (‘knowledge’) and weakness (‘some knowledge but requires further work’). From these five subject areas the groups made recommendations that would further develop the ‘Framework’. These will be incorporated into TASI’s work so that the ‘Framework’ is fully developed and thus extensive information pertinent to the building of a digital image archive is available to the TASI user community.

Why we would like to hear from you

Providing impartial advice and supporting our users is the top priority for TASI. TASI advice comes from practical experience of building digital image archives, surveying other image based projects, keeping abreast of current practices and maintaining a watch on future developments. With these activities TASI aims to provide the best possible advice.

TASI would like to hear from you if:

  • you are planning on building a digital image archive and would like help on technical issues (e.g. metadata and copyright)
  • you think we could provide training courses for you
  • you would like help with writing a proposal for funding a digital image archive
  • you have any other comments/advice/practical experience you would like to share
  • you would like a copy of our flyer and/or resource pack

TASI can be contacted at:

The Institute for Learning and Research Technology,
8, Woodland Road,
Tel. 0117 928 9835.
Please ask for Karla Youngs (TASI Manager) or Alan Lock (Technical Research Officer).
Email: info@tasi.ac.uk
Visit our Web site at:
http://www.tasi.ac.uk/

Author Details

Karla Youngs
TASI Manager
University of Bristol
8 Woodland Road,Bristol,BS8 1TN
Email: karla.youngs@bristol.ac.uk
URL: http://www.tasi.ac.uk/
Date published: 
Saturday, 19 December 1998
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