Thursday, July 5, 2012

CAMIO - Catalog of Art Museum Images Online

The Art, Music and Recreation Center of the San Francisco Public Library is pleased to be able to offer CAMIO to our patrons.  CAMIO, which stands for Catalog of Art Museum Images Online, is a product of OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) which also provides the popular WorldCat international database of library catalogs.

CAMIO is a digital collection of about 95,000 art images from 25 institutions.  These are primarily American and include some of the most important museums in the United States.  Two San Francisco collections are very prominently featured in CAMIO: the database includes 17,511 images from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the combined De Young and Legion of Honor collections) and 2,345 images from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Many of these museums include digital images on their own websites.  As those of you who consult and use reproductions in your work and research, the character and quality of reproductions can vary from source to source.

For example, the website for the Legion of Honor includes a reproduction of the Claude Monet painting Water Lilies.  This online reproduction allows one to see a thumbnail of the entire painting and additionally allows one to view portions of the painting at various magnifications within a relatively small frame.

The image of Water Lilies in CAMIO is also available to magnify or shrink within a larger frame.  Additionally it is possible to open a new window with a higher-resolution image, and to download that image.  CAMIO allows its images to be used for personal and educational non-commercial purposes.

In this instance the Legion of Honor website has one important feature lacking in CAMIO - a biography of Monet that may help one's understanding of the painting.  It is also evident that the two databases show the painting with differing color levels.  Of course, this often depends upon the lighting used when the image was photographed.  It's not always possible to say which reproduction is truest to an original that is probably impossible to capture in its full richness and beauty.

CAMIO has four search methods.  There is a simple keyword search box in the upper left hand corner of the homepage.  This search often gives a long list of results (in the case of Monet there are 115 works).  The left hand column of the results screen in this search mode also provides an opportunity for the user to further refine their search by the categories of format, creator, date and subject.

This homepage also provides a link for "collections of prominent museums" that allows one to browse by institution.  At the bottom of the homepage there are also links to a number of the art mediums that are represented in the database.  Finally there is the advanced search where it is possible to search by keyword strings in a variety of ways and also to limit the search by museum collection.

One final access point to CAMIO is through OCLC's WorldCat database.  All of the images in the database include a bibliographic record and provide a live link to the image for database users in the Library.

Articles and Databases at San Francisco Public Library

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