Rethinking Visual Resources Centers in the Digital Age: Case Studies at the University of Georgia and the University of Michigan

  • Courtney L. Baron University of Georgia
  • Molly J. Schoen University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Keywords: visual resources, outreach, relevance, collaboration, user services


Visual Resource Centers are facing many challenges—and opportunities—in the wake of the digital era. Since their beginnings as slide libraries, many VRCs have had missions across college campuses to serve the image needs of faculty in art-related fields. More recently, visual resources professionals have guided faculty and other colleagues into the digital era by providing digitization services and support. But as faculty and other clientele have become more tech-savvy over the years, and as high quality art images have become more readily available than ever before, the fate of VRCs and similar departments is at risk. In order to stay in business, VRCs need to stay relevant. Fortunately, the digital age has also extended itself into countless new opportunities for visual resource professionals, not only in allowing for new means of collaboration, but also in freeing up time for extended outreach and education efforts. This article presents various outreach and collaboration initiatives taken by the Visual Resources Center at the Lamar Dodd School of Art within the University of Georgia, and the Visual Resources Collections within the Department of the History of Art at the University of Michigan.

Author Biographies

Courtney L. Baron, University of Georgia

Courtney Baron is the Director of Visual Resources at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia. As a solo curator, she responsible for managing all aspects of the visual resources collection and her long-term goal is to re-purpose the visual resources center into a resource library for teaching and learning in the visual arts. Ms. Baron recently completed her Masters in Library and Information Science from Valdosta State University, focusing on academic librarianship with an emphasis on the arts and humanities.

Molly J. Schoen, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

As Information Resources Specialist, Molly Schoen oversees cataloging and metadata-related aspects of the Visual Resources Collections at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The VRC is a collection of approximately 500,000 digital and analog images, operating within the University's Department of the History of Art. Ms. Schoen has a Masters in Library and Information Science, specializing in fine & performing arts libraries, from Wayne State University.

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