ArtSTOR Shared Shelf

Middlebury’s Story & Goals

Middlebury was under no illusion that they would ever have a single source for image information, but their goals were:

  • Reduce number of systems to a more reasonable number
  • Establish methods for exchange within campus & collaborative platform across campuses
  • Provide multiple interfaces to same data store for specific uses: curricular use, museum collections, research

Governance is distributed, with different parts of campus managing their own collections.

About ArtSTOR

Founded by Mellon, now stand-alone.  People feel comfortable using ArtSTOR because they have legal indemnity.  ArtSTOR recognized early on that there was local content at institutions looking for a place to store their collections.


The request came in early after ArtSTOR’s launch to provide this functionality.  Originally a very labor-intensive process to map to ArtSTOR’s database model.  150 participants.

A lesson learned: Manual hosting is hard & expensive.

Many institutions had multiple systems that were difficult to integrate.

Shared Shelf

Accommodates simple or complex data schemes.  Fields are customizable by type and fields can be added.  Standard schema facilitate cross-campus sharing.

Three vocabularies:

  • ULAN
  • TGN
  • CONA (in development)

Creating new authorities such as teh Built Work Registry (awarded IMLS grant 2010)

Focusing for now on digital still images.  They want to do this well first, and then move on.

Publishing & Exporting

Sharing content internally, among a small group of schools, etc.

“Shared Shelf” as a concept: moving outward as IP and legal issues are addressed.

Faceted search coming in 2 months.

What’s Next

Moving from 9 schools to add 25 more.  These schools will work out many of the data integration questions that lie ahead.


Questions about whether you have to be an ArtSTOR customer to participate in Shared Shelf (yes), whether ArtSTOR will be more interoperable with others like Flickr (yes, if they would not only ingest data but send some back out — they don’t).  A question about when there’s a system at home and ArtSTOR housing collections, which system is in control (Mike Roy says ArtSTOR becomes the system of record so you’re not constantly crosswalking batches of data).  What’s the financial model (For Middlebury, they fronted the money to get in on the specifications.  In time, this money will be helped to defray the cost of the subscription to the service.)

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