Creation of an Image Management Database for the Historical Center for the Health Sciences

Deborah A. Torres
ILS 603, Image Databases, Besser; Fall 1995
Individual Project Report

Select this image to view a larger JPEG image of an actual cataloging record in the Image Bank database


Individual Project Report Summary

This report summarizes the creation of an image management database for the Historical Center for the Health Sciences (HCHS) at the University of Michigan. The role of HCHS is to "foster a broader understanding and a deeper appreciated of the pioneering role of the University of Michigan, its alumni, and Michigan as a state in advancing knowledge of disease and promoting human health."

In 1993, HCHS undertook the SourceLINK Project, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The SourceLINK has two primary facets: to serve as an information clearinhouse to primary resources in the history of health care and health scineces as they are associated with Michigan; to provide an archival consulting service in the history of health care and the health sciences as they are associated with Michigan.

As part of the SourceLINK Project, the One of the basic concepts of the new file structure the creation a special directory for all digital images being used for the Web site. (Recommendation by the author of this report.) The special image directory would be further divided into logical sub-directories. Images included such things as interface elements, such as logos, and clickable buttons, imagemaps, and actual photographs or images of artifacts being used for special exhibits. (See for example, the African American Health Care Experience site at MDHI). The idea was that images could be or linked to from more than one place on the site but needed to physically exist in only one place in the storage system.

Another issue that arose while working on the site re-design, was that the HCHS staff needed to have a better documentation process for materials being used to create the Web site, and for specialty products, such as CD-ROMs. Documentation especially was needed to track the origin and use of digital images. Images come from a number of sources, such as the Bentley Historical Library, U-M, or the March of Dimes. Therefore, it was recommended that some type of image management system be developed for HCHS staff to record information about its digital images.

The creation of image management database, called "Image Bank" was joint project of the HCHS Coordinator Denise Anthony, and two SILS students, Kathy Steiner, and the author, Deborah Torres. Steiner and Torres worked individually on separate parts of the project. Anthony and Steiner, with the assistance of Anne Frantilla from the Bentley Historical Library, investigated and decided upon a number of fields for the database, and placed them into logical categories. Steiner then undertook the task of creating definitions for the fields and scope notes for future catalogers. (This task became her individual project for ILS 603).

Torres made recommendation for the fields in the database that dealt with the digital creation of the image, and created definitions for those particular fields. In addition, Torres created a tracking sheet for the staff to use when scanning images.

Torres also was in charge of investigating database software for the database, the physical creation of the database, and the interface layout. One somewhat inexpensive commercial digital image collection software was located and tested, it was uncertain if the software could support the number of fields needed for the database. HCHS staff already was using the software, FileMaker Pro, so that software was selected for the database. One of the primary considerations for a software is that it be able to support not only text information but images. FileMaker Pro allows a field to be set up that contains an image or a sound file. Therefore, each record in the database for an image could contain a small "thumbnail" of the image.

Some sample records have been created for the database to test the usefulness of the fields and the clarity of the cataloging scope notes. The database was delivered to HCHS the first week of December 1995 and will be further tested with digital images to be used for a special exhibit on the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the announcement of the discovery of the polio vaccine.


A listing of the fields in the database and their groupings is available for viewing.

Also, six sample records of images related to the polio vaccine announcment are available for viewing:

fr05frportrait (Portrait of Thomas Francis)

ka11joinmarch (Join the March of Dimes promotion)

mb14salkfamily (Salk family at polio vaccine announcement)

mu08clinic (Children being vaccinated at a clinic)

ni10hartchild (Politician Hart with 2 children)

sp02culture (Viewing a culture sample during the clinical trials)