July 1, 2014 will mark ten years since the Artstor Digital Library became available for educational use. Today, nearly half a million registered users at more than 1,500 educational institutions around the world use the Library for their research and teaching. We are always fascinated by the work being done using Artstor – from Lois Kuyper-Rushing, the music librarian at Louisiana State who curated dozens of image groups related to musicology, to Lera Boroditsky, professor of psychology at Stanford, who tracked the gender representations of ideas (such as Liberty) across cultures and times.
As the Artstor Digital Library continues to expand its multidisciplinary content (including cartoons from The New Yorker and anthropological objects from The American Museum of Natural History), we continue to develop on other fronts. Last year, we worked with six museums to support the launch of the open Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Soon after, institutions such as the University of Delaware, Bryn Mawr College, and Cornell University contributed special collections of images and video to the DPLA via our Shared Shelf service.
Shared Shelf, created in collaboration with eight colleges and universities and The Society of Architectural Historians, provides a cataloging and asset management infrastructure that enables primary source content to flow together, both on a given campus (where collections are often fragmented and incompatible) and across institutions. Shared Shelf supports the needs of a Shakespearean at UC Irvine as well as an architectural historian at Middlebury concerned about the future of his images after he retires.
In support of the newly revised Advanced Placement® Art History curriculum, our Selected Monuments program provides depth and flexible curricular content for teachers at more than 100 secondary schools. Marla Faith, art teacher at Nashville’s Harpeth Hall School, likens it to “going to one grocery store that has everything in the right aisles, rather than visiting four different stores to get all the ingredients that I need for my recipe.” At the same time, the Digital Library is being used at universities and colleges from Beijing to Johannesburg to Dubai to Rio with increasing frequency, and not only in art-related disciplines. “Artstor is used extensively in our School of Arts and Aesthetics and the Centre for Historical Studies in the School of Social Sciences,” says Dr. Ramesh Gaur of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
Colleagues in the visual resources community, museum technology departments, libraries of all shapes and sizes, the offices of artists’ estates, archives, the digital library community, and across education institutions have taught us a great deal and directed us toward an ever-more networked, collaborative approach to sharing content. We seek not to impose greater constraints on contributors’ content than they themselves will impose, and continue to change and adapt with our environment.
Very few of the areas in which we work are simple–financially sustainable, scalable technological change; the evolution of libraries; the balancing of creators’ rights and educational fair use–but all these evolving areas are extremely important to the future of teaching and research in the arts and sciences. We continue to believe that a mix of fee-supported and free services will produce dependable and valuable networked solutions. This mixture seems much better to us than creating wonderful services that then “fall off a cliff” when philanthropic funds run out.
As we get some things right, and some things probably less right, we, like any other 10-year-old, need your wisdom, and appreciate your support.
With all best regards —
James Shulman, President
Neil Rudenstine, Chairman