James Shulman, ARTstor (by Paula Sadler)

James Shulman, Executive Director for ARTstor

Artstor

James
Shulman currently serves as executive director for ARTstor. It’s a digital
library (like a more advanced version of Flickr and JSTOR) where images of art
or photos of architecture and sculptures can be used for teaching and research.
How does it work? An educational institution—say a school, museum, or
library—will pay for a license to use the ARTstor site, and then its patrons or
students will be able to use this primary source material. In fact, as Duke
students, we all have access to ARTstor through Duke’s IP address (check out
the Library website under databases.).

 

How
did Shulman get involved with this project? He worked for 9 years at the Mellon
Foundation, the non-profit corporation that created ARTstor, and began
construction on the site. In an interview with Educause, Shulman said that the
site was first constructed because of the “dark forest” of obstacles that
museums faced when trying to go digital. He said that “the idea was to bring
the community together to work with both users and content owners.” One of the
most revolutionary things about ARTstor is its efforts to make images
user-friendly and informative. ARTstor features the capability to create slides
from images as well as Quicktime features that help readers get a feel for the
location of a work of art and its context in history. Incorporating audio and
film into the website is currently in the works.

 

Of
course, storing replications of primary sources poses some interesting
challenges for Shulman and the Mellon Foundation. The main issue that ARTstor
faces these days is working through complicated copyright and intellectual
property rights laws. This can be especially problematic because ARTstor works
with images from around the world, and other nations’ policies on intellectual
property have hindered its efforts in the past. As executive director, one of
Shulman’s most important jobs is managing the database collections and working
to build an international community of researchers and scholars.

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