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The Image Database to Enhance Asian Studies [IDEAS] unifies digitizing efforts already in progress at various campuses into a shared searchable database, open to anyone with access to the World Wide Web. IDEAS focuses on the generally underrepresented area of Asia in an attempt to make multi-media materials more widely available for specialists and non-specialists alike. The scope of the IDEAS project allows for the continued addition of new materials over time, encouraging participation in both use as well as development of the database through faculty and staff workshops. IDEAS is the first multi-institutional, interdisciplinary, pan-Asian searchable database in the country.

The goal of IDEAS has always been to create a database specific to Asia that will augment the limited resources in the field of Asian Studies available on any given liberal arts campus. In some cases, IDEAS will provide digital information that, by virtue of its highly specialized nature, is not readily available on the Internet or in print. For example, there may be documentation of an Indian religious rite that is vital material, but too specialized to ever attract the interest or support of a publisher. A Japanese garden may require numerous images to convey the dynamic experience of changes over time or through movement, but texts usually present only one static image. The same is true of most works of three dimensional art and culture. Most of our collections will also offer users the wisdom about selection and sequencing which experts using these materials can bring to these resources.

The IDEAS PROJECT continues to grow and develop thanks to support from the Henry Luce Foundation. Previous funding has come from the Mellon Foundation in the form of grants provided through the Midwest Instructional Technology Center and the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education.

For questions or comments about the IDEAS PROJECT, contact Karil Kucera, professor of art history at St. Olaf College, at kucera@stolaf.edu.