Howard Besser is one of the worlds leading authorities on image databases. He is the most highly published author on this subject in professional journals, is a frequent speaker to both professional and commercial conferences, and he regularly conducts preconference workshops on image databases at the meetings of a number of different professional organizations. He has consulted for a wide range of organizations, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, UNESCO, the Italian Association for Computing Machinery, and Francis Coppola's American Zoetrope.
Since 1992 Dr. Besser has been the Information Systems Analyst for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, where he is in charge of automation plans to build a museum and library for the 21st century. He also teaches one class per semester ("Impact of Multimedia and Networks") in the University of California at Berkeley Library School, and runs a weekly lecture series for the Berkeley campus featuring prominent public figures in the area of impact of new information technologies. For 3 years prior to teaching at Berkeley, he was Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh.
From 1974 to 1989 he worked with visual collections at the University of California at Berkeley as Information Manager for the University Art Museum, and later as Image Database Specialist for the central campus Computer Center's Advanced Technology Planning group. He was part of the project team which designed the UC Berkeley Image Database (ImageQuery).
Dr. Besser has published articles on automation of image collections in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Library Trends, Visual Resources, Museum Studies Journal, and numerous other publications. He has contributed chapters to books on Multimedia, Cataloging, Educational Technology, and Organizing Moving Image Materials. He is currently working on a book on Image Databases which will be part of the ASIS Monograph Series.
Dr. Besser has developed and taught a graduate-level class entitled Computer-based Management of Image Collections at both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California at Berkeley. He regularly teaches a reduced version of this class as a workshop at the annual meetings of the Museum Computer Network, The Art Library Society of North America, and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS). In 1993 he developed another graduate-level class that examines the impact of multimedia and networks. This course, taught throughout the 1993-94 academic year, featured two dozen guest lectures from the most prominent people in the fields. Because of the timeliness and popularity of this course, material and resources from the course will be mounted as Internet resources in April 1994.
Dr. Besser is chair of the Association of College and Research Libraries' committee on Technology and the Arts, and is immediate past chair of the Library Information Technology Association's CLSI Scholarship committee. He is chair of the American Association of Museums' jury which presents awards to the best museum interactive program. He is on the Museum Clearinghouse Advisory Committee, is a Canadian representative to the International Standards Organization's SC 29 Committee on Multimedia Information, and has recently resigned from the Board of Directors of Pittsburgh Filmmakers. He is an active participant in ASIS, the Museum Computer Network, and the Coalition for Networked Information. He has been a frequent reviewer of grant proposals involving computing in museums for the US National Endowment for the Humanities.