User Updates

Updated October 1, 2020

University Communications is making some topical and structural updates to our photo library — the online editorial photography resource that showcases UW–Madison’s activities, people, and places. UComm is making these changes following our reflection on campus goals, evolving community standards, and ongoing user input.

In particular, these changes are intended to address concerns regarding tokenism and instances where photographs are overused or misused for purposes outside the original context of the image.

“Diversity” theme and tag

UComm is removing the Diversity theme from the list of curated galleries and is also ending use of the generalized term “diversity” as an image keyword or tag.

While initially created to aid users frequently searching for a variety of images, reliance on the word “diversity” has too often become a form of “othering” that risks tokenizing people of color and other underrepresented members of our community.

Searches for photos with caption references to identified programs and entities such as the Diversity Forum; UW System Diversity Awards; the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement; Multicultural Student Center; McBurney Disability Resource Center; Gender and Sexuality Campus Center; the Black Cultural Center; etc. will continue to yield related results. We encourage use of these photos in the context in which they were produced.

Shelf life of photos

UComm is also reviewing the length of time images remain in the general photo library. This is complicated by the fact that we maintain tens of thousands of photo assets in our collections. We are scrutinizing how long images are accessible, especially those that feature time-sensitive content of people and dated views of the physical campus. Our goal with our photo library is to primarily feature contemporary images, i.e., those created with the last five years. This will help users stay current and keep outdated images from inadvertently being used in campus communications beyond their relevance. As a result of these efforts, some images that currently reside in user-created lightboxes will no longer be visible if they have been placed into archived status.

UComm will continue to internally archive and manage its older photo content.

COVID-19 Gallery

UComm has added a new content gallery titled COVID-19 that includes images related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Photos in this gallery feature mask wearing, social distancing and other best practices, or have a direct association with news related to COVID-19.

Questions or comments can be sent via the photo library’s contact page.