The Visual Resources Center (VRC) began as the Slide Library of the Department of Art History, in the College of Liberal Arts. The slide collection uses the Minnesota Art Classification System, which was developed in the late 1940s by Professor Dmitri Tselos.
He aimed to develop an alphabetized, non-numerical method of slide classification containing word categories and their abbreviations. A brief overview is available here. Published in 1959, it has many variations and descendants. In 1999, the VRC started the process of digitizing the slides in order to support the teaching of digital materials in the classroom.
In 2003, the VRC joined the College Liberal Arts Office of Information Technology (CLA-OIT) and started the Digital Content Lab in Heller 469. This was established in response to the growing number of requests for the funding of the conversion of analog instructional materials—such as slides, photographs, videos, and audio content—to digital format. Instead of providing duplicate equipment throughout the College, the CLA Student Fees Committee asked the VRC to supervise the projects in a joint lab environment. The Committee and the College directed participating units to adopt standards for digitizing and processing analog materials, and they also required the capture of information for all digitized objects. This metadata, when entered fully and in a consistent manner, would enable the College to create a database of learning objects for the entire university community.
Multiple collections were initially created but no cross searching was available, and inconsistencies in access and control were present. In 2006, the Digital Content Library was established in partnership between the VRC and the Digital Collections + Archives in the College of Design. This collaboration doubled the size and broadened the scope of the database. It also allowed for inclusion of audio and video materials, and normalized access across the University community.
In the future, the Visual Resources Center will continue its commitment to maintaining the highest quality in the capture, processing, and cataloguing of content being added to the DCL. As more generalized resources have become available online, the VRC's focus has shifted to acquiring and providing greater access to original and unique materials from faculty and departmental collections.