The Virtual Study (ViS) is a one-stop user interface that provides access to all of the Theatre Institute’s information databases. It is designed to make it easier to conduct research and to increase the informational value of the ATI’s resources through the joint and interconnected publication and accessibility of its materials, to which there might otherwise be limited or even no access (negatives and diapositives in the photography and scenographic collections), while also helping to protect and conserve original materials, which can suffer from regular handling.
The Virtual Study project is the culmination of the work conducted by the Theatre Institute to date towards digitising its materials and incorporating its collections into database format. The ViS is founded on two robust databases – Verbis, created by the company KP-SYS and used by the Library and the Bibliography Department, and the Theatre database developed according to specifications from the Information and Documentation Department (theatre productions, video library, audio library, theatre events, important figures, plays) and related databases of collections (photographs, scenography), which already provide direct access to digitised materials.
Processing the institute’s collections into electronic format received an important boost from work on several grant projects. The most important achievements were the completion of the work to compile information on productions by Czech theatres since 1945 and the digitisation of almost 180 000 photographs in the documentation collections (performed in 2008–2011 as part of work on the project ‘Preserving and Presenting the Cultural Heritage of Czech and World Theatre’/Uchování a prezentace kulturního dědictví českého i světového divadla, supported by a grant from the Norway Grants).
The ViS represents the integration of information and digitised materials processed in database format. This includes the Library’s catalogue, equipped with a search module and a tool for managing the user’s account, and the large bibliographic database of articles with links to the full-text versions of the articles (this latter function can only be used in the ATI’s internal network), the video library catalogue, and the database of stage productions by Czech theatres since 1945, accompanied by the databases of theatre photography, scenography and documentation.
The Arts and Theatre Institute’s digitisation projects and its provision of access to digitised materials adhere to the terms of the Czech Copyright Act (Act No. 121/2000). It is for this reason that some digitised materials cannot be accessed online through the website; but these materials are available to registered researchers for study purposes on the premises of the Arts and Theatre Institute. This applies primarily to the Library’s digitised collections of publications published since 1900 and some scenographic designs and some photographs for which the institute has been unable to obtain consent from the copyright owners. It is indicated online which materials this applies to, and the institute is happy to make them available to anyone interested in them to study in one of the institute’s reading rooms.