Image Searching at Corbis: Using Language to Access the Visual


At Corbis we are in the business of licensing digital images, which means customers must be able to search for and retrieve images for a wide range of uses. As Catalogers and Vocabulary Managers, we are at the intersection of visual literacy and information literacy: images (the visual) must be described by words (information), or users will not be able to find them. But this can be a tricky accomplishment, given the fact that our brains digest visuals and words quite differently.

People look for specific things, activities, and events in images. They look for feelings and emotions and concepts. And they look for structural and compositional traits, such as color, size, and viewpoint. Our challenge is to develop searching vocabulary that meets all of these needs, and to use that vocabulary to describe images so that people can find the perfect visual solution.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Investigate the complexity of image aboutness. How do you know what your customers are looking for, and whether or not you’ve met their needs?

  • Explore the challenges of using one vocabulary to describe a diverse and vast image collection.

  • Take an inside look at image cataloging and vocabulary development practices at Corbis.
  • Presenters:

    Dyan Chandler, MLIS
    Search Vocabulary Supervisor

    Diane Constantine Silver, MLIS
    Search Metadata Specialist


    (please note: this presentation uses sound)


    1 Comment »

    1. Kathryn said,

      link broken

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