As of August, teachers, scholars, students, and staff at over 1,375 educational institutions are using ARTstor images for their academic and curatorial work. ARTstor Digital Library now includes over 1.3 million very large image files that we aggregate in response to what our users want to use. We also build tools (such as the capacity to make a PowerPoint presentation with one click or to quiz yourself using “flashcards” on iPads or iPhones) that are directly aimed at teaching, learning, and research. But we are doing more than providing a library of images; staff at over 40 institutions now are able to use Shared Shelf, the web-based cataloging and image management system that will help institutions to manage their own local content.
These various approaches—aggregating content from museums and photographers and archives as well as building enabling infrastructure—are directed toward one goal: increasing the flow of images into educational use. Primary source material is endless, as is the academic hunger for more such original content. We aim to play a role in contributing to the community’s capacity to build, share, and use content. Since 2004, we have done this by connecting users to fantastic content in the visual arts but also across the liberal arts. We do this by working to earn the trust of content owners and users so they can do more together, and by building tools that help institutions manage and share collections. But we also do this by being flexible and evolving our organizational model. There’s a great deal in flux in the digital ecosystem, and by pursuing our work as a nonprofit we can vary our approaches to respond to community needs.
The community sustains Shared Shelf and the ARTstor Digital Library through subscription fees, which are scaled to the size of the institution. But other things that we do, such as Images for Academic Publication—spearheaded by the Metropolitan Museum in 2007 but now growing to include Mellink Archive (Bryn Mawr College), Yale University Art Gallery, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and others— provides publication-quality images for academic publications without any charge to scholars. Projects such as the Built Works Registry (a joint project with the Avery Fine Arts and Architecture Library at Columbia University and the Getty Research Institute and supported by an IMLS grant) will be free and open-access to contributors and users. These are some of the steps forward that your subscription fees make possible for ARTstor to support. Being sustainable allows us to serve our users well by being responsive to community needs. We may be playing a role as a node in the network, but it is really the work of scholars, curators, educators, librarians, catalogers, registrars, photographers, conservators, archivists, fundraisers, and others that make all these endeavors possible.
This mixed mode, wherein we balance the needs of the community with our ability to play a constructive role in responding to those needs, ties together the various activities that we are pursuing. Helping to enable integration may not sound as glorious an undertaking as some slogans, but for the complex, fascinating, and dynamic communities that we serve, building a variety of bridges in a variety of ways seems more fruitful than blindly committing to only one “business model” or pursuing solitary paths.
With all best regards,
Chairman of the Board