Monday, March 30, 2009

Freshwater and Marine Image Bank

The Freshwater and Marine Image Bank was established by the Fisheries-Oceanography library at the University of Washington. Their goal was to create a comprehensive digital collection of historic fish pictures for the world to enjoy, and to maintain it well into the future (at least as long as people have the desire to look at fish, which knowing people, will be quite a while). The collection consists of approximately 19,000 images captured from a wide variety of publications printed between 1735 and 1924. The idea being, of course, to focus on images that would be in the public domain. On to presentation and metadata!

Searching by keyword or browsing by predetermined classifications both bring you to the same thumbnail view screen of relevant images. Each image is listed along with it's title, which unfortunately isn't standardized at all. Some are scientific, Latin names of flora and fauna depicted, some are descriptions of the image, and some are even written in the language of the image's country of origin! It can make things confusing at times. Clicking on the thumbnail brings up a larger version of the image with all of the metadata, which is extensive (date, author, publisher's information, copyright information, etc.) Much better than the thumbnail view, at any rate.

All in all, the site is easy to navigate despite the large size of the collection, and there's plenty to look at for the aspiring marine researcher. The public domain focus also makes it a great source for students working on presentations or projects. The images are all of high quality, and relevant metadata is provided. Overall, one of the least silly and best put together sites I've looked at so far.

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