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HELIX: Higher Education Library for Image eXchange

Project web site

Programme area

Contact details
John Eyre,
Division of Learning Development De Montford University The Gateway Leicester LE1 9BH
Phone: 0116 257 7159 Fax: 0116 257 7170

Project description

as of 26th July 1996


Image collections and resources are of immense importance for research, teaching and learning across a wide spectrum of subject areas. Images may be the primary research material or may inform and enrich research which is principally text based or experimental in nature. Research carried out over the last three or four years has addressed many of the problems associated with digitisation, indexing and retrieval, distribution, staffing and management issues and problems concerned with copyright and access controls. De Montfort University was commissioned by the JISC to investigate the needs of the UK Higher Education community in relation to the digital storage and network delivery of image based information. The final report is titled Proposal for an Image Data Resource Service and can be obtained from JISC.

HELIX will build on prototyping work carried out in projects like ELISE, helping to create substantial and useful operational image banks, delivering images to universities throughout the UK.


The broad objectives are as follows:
  • To develop a substantive body of image resource content based on distributed image banks held in the partner organisations. Access will be developed initially to three collections of national and international importance: the Hulton Getty Collection; the National Art Slide Library and the Valentine Photographic Archive.
  • To do so within a technical framework using recognised standards which will be hospitable to incorporation of further image banks, both nationally and internationally.
  • To produce a cohesive package of image-based materials on the Social and Political History of Britain from 1859 to the Present Day.
  • To evaluate the project and report.
These objectives will be progressed through four key tasks:
  • Establish approach, standards framework, and train partners on current position. Define software, interface, and interconnection technologies and set in place. Ensure compliance on charging and controls.
  • Set up image bank creation process for all partners and begin production level capture and indexing of materials. 5,000 images from each of the three partners to be captured in the first year.
  • Specify framework for Social and Political History of Britain module and begin building module as soon as a critical mass of resources is available.
  • Second year: Continue image bank creation, stepping up conversion to a total of 45,000 images.


  • Several large-scale image banks based in the partner organisations and developed co-operatively.
  • A manual of good practice for the implementation and management of image banks.
  • A package on the Social and Political History of Britain (SPHB) from 1859 to the Present Day which will be a valuable (and marketable) research and teaching resource in its own right, but which will also act as a "proof of concept" for others wishing to develop similar products.
  • A licence agreement between Hulton Getty and the HE sector. A licence agreement between DMU, St. Andrews and the HE sector.


  • De Montfort University (lead partner)
  • Hulton Getty Collection
  • St. Andrews University

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