Enhancing the Database of Mid-Victorian Wood-Engraved Illustration (DMVI; www.dmvi.cardiff.ac.uk/)

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of English Communication and Philos

Abstract

This application seeks funding to guarantee the long-term sustainability and increased impact of a much-valued resource developed through previous AHRC funding: the Database of Mid-Victorian Wood-Engraved Illustration (2004-7; DMVI; www.dmvi.cardiff.ac.uk/). The proposal grows out of two other AHRC projects: an ICT Methods Network Workshop on 'Annotating Images' (2007) and a Museums, Galleries and Libraries Network (LICAU 2007-8). The PIs for these projects (Thomas, Rana, Skilton) have united to develop this proposal and pool their expertise and contacts across different sectors. The application exploits recent technical advances not only to improve DMVI as it now exists, but to enhance it so that it can become the core for more extensive database work with literary illustration.

DMVI's unique value to humanities research lies in its digitised storage and bibliographic and iconographic descriptions of almost 900 illustrations that accompanied literary texts in 1862, a key year in the so-called 'golden age' of illustration. The images and metadata are accessible on a fully-searchable website. DMVI has played a major role in elevating the status of illustration. The project was graded 'outstanding' by AHRC assessors, who commented on its significance across the fields of print culture, visual arts and cultural history. A review in the Journal of Victorian Culture said DMVI 'raises the entire profile of illustration as a semi-autonomous category and a proper field for scholarly investigation' (13:1, 108-113).

This proposal arises because of the widespread recognition that DMVI's significance is considerably more extensive than originally envisaged. Its iconographic system has been adapted by other Victorian databases (see Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition http://www.ncse.ac.uk/index.html), while its structures have been used in diverse image-based projects: the Victorian Manchester Image Database (http://web.leedstrinity.ac.uk/history/mh/dmvi/index.html) and Illustrating Scott (http://illustratingscott.lib.ed.ac.uk/index.html). DMVI images have also been requested for use by TV, film and publishing companies, graphic designers, community and tourism websites, and the heritage industry.

Recognising the major impact of DMVI in such a range of academic and commercial contexts, this proposal seeks to guarantee its sustainability and enhance its impact as follows:

1. Ensuring technical sustainability by converting the data to MySQL. For archiving purposes, a version of DMVI will be deposited with key image repositories (e.g. NINES, (http://www.nines.org/; Europeana, http://www.europeana.eu/portal/).
2. Increasing the impact of content by the mapping of ICONCLASS codes, enabling browsing in languages other than English and cross-searching between DMVI and third-sector collections worldwide.
3. Allowing for community editing, first, by providing an interface for the addition of new records, allowing non-specialists to add material, and accommodating new fields for medium, date, language and verbal context; second, by exploring the use of community tagging to generate meaningful and authoritative data.
4. Enhancing the search facility to permit further development and the implementation of the database mechanisms in other contexts.
5. Developing an open source Image Management System, so that users (academics or others) can develop their own image-based datasets based on DMVI. This follows the successful adaptations by the Victorian Manchester Image Database and Illustrating Scott.
6. Creating impact in schools through teaching-support sites and resources, with the advice of a consultant from the Institute of Education.

By these developments, the significant existing benefits of the AHRC's investment will be multiplied by turning DMVI into a resource with international cross-sector reach and by enabling a broad range of users to directly contribute to the further growth of a rich, multifaceted resource.

Planned Impact

DMVI has already achieved impact: it averages 4500 unique visits per month; images have been used by ITV, VBS.TV, Radiant Films (Australia), Dundurn National Historic Site (Ontario), community and tourist websites, marketing agencies, and international publishers including OUP. After DMVI, we ran four AHRC-funded workshops to examine the database and recommend further development: an ICT Methods Network Workshop and three Museums, Galleries and Libraries Workshops (LICAU; Literary Illustration: Conservation, Access, Use). With the PIs of all three projects on the present team, we confidently identify the following requirements to increase the impact of this unique resource:

1. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of DMVI so as to enable the growth of awareness and use to develop within and across sectors and groups

Re-writing the database in MySQL to make it sustainable for longer and compatible with NINES etc. will increase its potential use and enable the planning of future developments, particularly expanding the amount of content. Compatibility will lead to listings and links through more heavily used portals.

2. Making the DMVI format available to other users so as to ensure technical and methodological impact

Making the DMVI format available through an Open Source Image Curation System to individuals and institutions builds on previous successful adaptations and will ensure optimal use of the database. This freely-available resource will have widespread applications, from dedicated image repositories (museums, galleries etc.) to members of the general public managing personal photograph collections. Thus, this project intends not only to enhance DMVI but also to contribute to a solution to the larger, more general problem of orphan data-sets.

3. Enlarging the number of expert users so as to create increasing amounts of secondary impact as their own work reaches new audiences and users

Developing a new interface for the input of records and accommodating new fields for medium, date, language and verbal context will open up the database to a wider range of material and new constituencies of users. This would enable scholars working in other fields (e.g. gender, sub/urban studies etc.) to add their own records to the database. Enhancing the search capability of DMVI will make the database more user-friendly, and hence increase the efficacy of use for both scholars and commercial users looking for specific pictorial features.

4. Enrolling new categories of users so as to create impact beyond expert users

Developing a social network for the community tagging of images will allow us better to understand how different groups 'read' images. Currently, the annotations on each illustration conform to a particular data model (based on the categories we have already defined). However, we wish to ascertain whether additional categories could be added through the inclusion of different user groups, and whether these can add unforeseen value to the resource. This will provide a springboard for future ICT projects. We also aim to enhance educational impact by opening up DMVI as a teaching resource in schools by disseminating pedagogic examples of the use of the database through teaching-support websites and direct contact with primary and secondary schools. The enhanced DMVI will also be on interactive display in the House of Illustration (the proposed museum at King's Cross) for the benefit of the general public and tourists.

5. Extending the language capabilities of DMVI so as to allow multilingual access and compatibility with gallery and museum databases

Producing an ICONCLASS interface to the iconographic search facility will allow searching of the database in French, German and Italian and ensure its compatibility with image collections around the world, making DMVI available internationally to comme

Publications

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Skilton, D (2013) 'Illustration Studies and the Infinite Archive.' in Journal of Illustration Studies

 
Description The updates to the database enabled on this project have facilitated its use by non-academics. Images from the database are frequently requested for use by publishers, graphic designers, television producers and other sectors. This use fed into an impact case study for the previous REF.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP)
Amount £1,530 (GBP)
Funding ID CUROP 2011 
Organisation Cardiff University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2011 
End 09/2011
 
Description The New Edinburgh Edition of the Works of Robert Louis Stevenson
Amount £153,250 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 12/2014
 
Title Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration (enhanced) 
Description This dataset consists of 868 scanned images of wood-engraved illustrations from the year 1862. These images can be viewed at high quality using Zoomify/Javascript platforms, as well as interrogated against bibliographic descriptors and iconographic descriptions. A key output of this phase of the project is the updating of the platform, enhanced features and the mapping of Iconclass codes that allow the database to be searched in different languages. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The enhanced features has enabled more sophisticated search options thus increasing the use of the site. The database is now also searchable within the Connected Histories platform 
URL http://www.dmvi.org.uk
 
Description Collaboration with ARKYVES 
Organisation Arkyves
Country Netherlands 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We provided the dataset of illustrations to the Arkyves team, who mapped on the ICONCLASS system of image classification, enabling multilingual searching of its contents.
Collaborator Contribution Arkyves mapped the ICONCLASS codes on to our iconographic descriptors
Impact This collaboration resulted in the development of a multi-lingual search facility in the database.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Collaboration with Cardiff University School of Computer Science 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration focused on enhancing and developing the technical aspects of the database to improve user experience of the website, as well as developing a freely available version of the system so that other users can create their own visual databases.
Collaborator Contribution This collaboration focused on enhancing and developing the technical aspects of the database to improve user experience of the website, as well as developing a freely available version of the system so that other users can create their own visual databases.
Impact This collaboration has led to an extremely fruitful partnership, which has fed into the latest AHRC-funded project (2014-15)
Start Year 2009
 
Description Collaboration with Sheffield University's Humanities Research Institute 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Department Humanities Research Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration focused on enhancing and developing the technical aspects of the database to improve user experience of the website, as well as developing a freely available version of the system so that other users can create their own visual databases.
Collaborator Contribution This collaboration focused on enhancing and developing the technical aspects of the database to improve user experience of the website, as well as developing a freely available version of the system so that other users can create their own visual databases.
Impact An enhanced database
Start Year 2010
 
Description Cardiff Book History Blog and Twitter feed 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Regular updates and information about the research project and its outputs have been regularly disseminated via socialnetworking tools, principally our Cardiff Book History Blog (http://cardiffbookhistory.wordpress.com) and Twitter feed (@CardiffBookHist), as well as through feed updates on Facebook.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://cardiffbookhistory.wordpress.com
 
Description Paper at Cardiff University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lots of discussion and questions

Sharing of information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Paper given at TIGRE, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This talk presented detaiils about the DMVI/DEDEFI project, and how the enhancements to the core database and its development into an open-source image curation system can be applied to similar research in the arts and humanities. It also publicised the DiCE system.

This paper presented to TIGRE detailed various aspects of the enhancements made to DMVI under the DEDEFI programme, in particular outlining key aspects of the DiCE image curation application, and its applicability to arts and humanities research projects
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Paper in Glasgow University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This was an invited lecture in Glasgow University, which showcased the new features of DMVI in the context of currrent and future developments in digital humanities.

This talk was presented to an audience of academics and postgraduates at Glasgow University's Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Insitute, which detailed the enhanced DMVI system and its applicablity to current and future research projects worki
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011