Journal: Library Journal
Issue Date: July 1, 2001
A previous version of this file was reviewed last year (Database & Disc Reviews), but substantial new developments warrant another look. What was true a year ago is true now, only more so. This file provides access to over 700,000 photographs from the Associated Press's collection of more than 50 million images! Most photos are post-1995, but older ones are scanned into the database on a regular basis: more than 500 photos are added daily, and trained indexers select the best 200 images for permanent retention. Most images are removed after 12 months. The database is incredibly up-to-date: less then two hours after Colorado beat St. Louis in the hockey playoffs, photos were available.
The database has expanded considerably to showcase other useful media, including audio clips and graphics. The more than 15,000 graphics files include maps, illustrations, and logos. Need a copy of the Bush inauguration logo? You can get it here. How about a map of African areas of conflict, or a breakdown of the origin of Australian immigrants? Also here. Graphics files can be downloaded and opened up as PDF files.
There are over 380,000 audio files (easily played with RealPlayer), some from as early as the 1920s (lots of sports quotes), as well as links to more than 800,000 full-text articles from the Associated Press.
Searching is so easy: Where, What, and When--just like a good news story. (It would be nice to add a "browse the headings" option in future, Accuweather.) There is also an advanced search option, but its availability is hidden under Help. Advanced Search offers powerful searching you may never have seen before, though these searches do not always cover the complete database. Search by photographer, photo type (portrait, vertical, aerial, etc.), 71 concepts (anger, love, power, vanity, etc.), dominant hue, and seven categories (sports, international, business, news, feature, entertainment, and weather). Searchers do need to know that the default Boolean operator is OR, but the system does recognize AND, NOT, NEAR, W/N, and uses the asterisk (*) as a wildcard.
There are several ways to display images. The system defaults to 12 photos to a screen, with captions. To see the caption, simply click the caption link. You can choose to display four photos with full captions or a list of 36 photos with partial captions. To see the photo, click on the photo icon. As you view the images, you can save up to 25 of them in the Lightbox, a visual clipboard. Each image has complete bibliographic information, including an ordering number.
The Bottom Line: Accunet/AP Multimedia Archive is available only to K-12 schools, public libraries, and colleges and universities. It is a marvelous collection of historical, political, and cultural images, and the new content makes it even more useful as a resource to enhance myriad reports, term papers, and presentations. To paraphrase the late, great Jerry Rubin: buy this database!
- Ed Tallent, Reference, Boston Coll.