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Howard Besser - Biography

Howard BesserHoward Besser is Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University (NYU) and Director of NYU's Moving Image Archiving & Preservation Program (MIAP). He is also Senior Scientist for Digital Library Initiatives at NYU's Bobst Library. Previously, Besser was a Professor of Library and Information Studies at UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies, where he taught and conducted research on multimedia, image databases, digital libraries, metadata standards, digital longevity, web design, informational literacy, distance learning, intellectual property, and the social and cultural impact of new information technologies. Besser is an international expert on new technologies in libraries, museums, and archives, and has been active in both national and international efforts to develop metadata and standards for the cultural heritage community.

His four main areas of interest are: image and multimedia databases (particularly in cultural institutions); the social and cultural effects of information technology; digital library issues (predominantly in regards to standards, longevity, and intellectual property); and the development of new ways to teach with technology (including web-based instruction and distance learning). Besser remains particularly interested in design issues and the use of critical theory perspectives.

For many years Besser has been actively involved in developing and testing new methods for using technology to teach. Since spring of 1994, Besser has been using the Internet as the key delivery system for instructional support, placing curriculums and other supporting materials on the World Wide Web. Besser encourages students to engage in online discussion groups and to relate to their peers in a responsive, collective cyber-discourse. From 1994 to 1996, Besser was on the faculty of the University of Michigan's School of Information where he headed a committee developing a curriculum in multimedia and digital publishing. In 1995, he was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year by the American Society for Information Science. From 1997 to 1999, Besser taught a course at NYU on web design and directed a grant project that hired students from his department to develop well-designed online web-based delivery systems.

Besser’s legendary collection of over 2,000 T-shirts contribute to his fame. In 2004, his students compiled a database of over 500 T-shirts. You can see part of his collection for yourself at: In 2011, Besser took a sabbatical from his work at NYU and played an active role in the Occupy movement as a member of Activist Archivists, a group of librarians who helped organize and document the Occupy movement. For a selected list of recent presentations Besser has given, go here:, and for more information about what Besser is up to, go here:

Moving Image Archiving & Preservation Program (MIAP)
Besser T-Shirt Collection
Recent Besser Presentations
Howard Besser's Homepage

June 2012