Major international conference debates metadata standards to increase public access to online image collections

  • Hosted by The Bridgeman Art Library, The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies (BAPLA) and The Museums and Documentation Association (MDA)
  • How to improve digital access to art collections with popularised standards such as The Getty Institute’s CDWA Lite and Cataloguing Cultural Objects (CCO)
  • Attendees include the BBC, The National Gallery and Royal Academy of Art

LONDON - 31 January, 2008 - The Bridgeman Art Library, the renowned fine art image library, joined forces with BAPLA and MDA to host a major international conference on metadata standards to increase public access to online image collections. The event - part of Bridgeman's EC-funded MILE Project - brought together 140 delegates from UK cultural institutions, government departments, educational establishments and image libraries including the BBC, The British Museum, The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, The Royal Academy of Arts and Hulton Getty. Making images available on the web at the touch of a button presents an ongoing challenge to image collections and the conference focused on ways of improving digital access with new methods which help streamline cataloguing issues.

A dominant area of discussion was the challenge posed by the current methods of cataloguing and solutions, such as XML-based CDWA Lite, developed by The Getty Institute, which has been widely adopted in the US. Keynote speakers at the conference included Murtha Baca from The Getty Institute, Stella Dextre Clarke, Independent Consultant to the UK Cabinet Office, and Professors Monika Hagedorn-Saupe and Axel Ermert from the Institute for Museum Research, Berlin.

Charlotte Sexton, Deputy Head New Media at the National Gallery, said: "Providing the public with digital access to a collection of images is a necessity, but simply publishing them online doesn't make them accessible. The process of cataloguing these images - so they are readily and easily available - is a real challenge. We need to ensure that users get the images they want from the search words they put in, but current cataloguing methods create conflicting interests between commercial, educational and intellectual users' needs - not to mention multi-lingual requirements. That's why this conference was so important. It has put this critical issue firmly up for debate and it was useful to learn about new approaches and technologies that can help address the issues we face each day."

Harriet Bridgeman, Chair of The Bridgeman Art Library, said: "The MILE Project places The Bridgeman Art Library at the forefront of research into metadata and its associated areas. This conference was exceptionally well-attended and provided an educational platform for a subject which is fast becoming recognised as a commercial necessity."

Making art available to everyone - Bridgeman's MILE Project
This conference is the latest in a series hosted by the Bridgeman Art Library as part of its EC-funded MILE Project. The MILE (Metadata Image Library Exploitation) Project was developed and originated by The Bridgeman Art Library with the aim of making digital art images more accessible to everyone by improving metadata. It assembles the knowledge and expertise of partners from the picture library industry across Europe to focus on metadata classification, metadata search and retrieval, and Intellectual Property Rights.

MILE's next conference, in association with CEPIC 2008, is IPR Solutions? Metadata and Intellectual Property Rights. This conference will be focussing on the problem of Orphan Works and will take place on 4th June 2008 at the Intercontinental, St George's Bay, Malta.

Please contact the MILE team or look at for more information.

About The Bridgeman Art Library (BAL)
Established for 35 years and with four international offices, The Bridgeman Art Library is the world's leading source of fine art, history and culture with some 300,000 images available on-line, plus 750,000 historical photographs, from 8000 locations. It represents museums, galleries and artists throughout the world by providing a central source of fine art for image users.

BAL also develops educational resource packages, publishes art catalogues, offers copyright advice, licenses reproduction rights and provides sales services. The organisation has a long history of feeding monies back into museums, of figures up to £1.5 million per year.

For more information please visit

Alison Smith
The PressOffice - PR for Bridgeman Art Library
Tel: 01780 721 433

Annabel O'Connor-Fenton
Marketing Executive, Bridgeman Art Library
Tel: 020 7096 1963

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