James Shulman – President of ARTstor (post by Sarah Goetz)

James Shulman

James Shulman went to Yale for graduate school and his PhD. During his 9 years at the Mellon Foundation before joining ARTstor, he “participated in the construction of large databases, wrote about educational policy issues and the missions of not-for-profit institutions, and worked in a range of research, administrative, and investment capacities.” He joined the Foundation in 1994 as a member of the research staff and from 1997-2002 he was the Financial and Administrative Officer, working on internal budgeting and management of the Foundation’s endowment. His published works include The Shape of the River: Long-term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions (Princeton University Press, 1998) with William G. Bowen and Derek Bok, The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values (Princeton University Press, 2001) with William Bowen and the introduction to Robert K. Merton’s The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Historical Semantics and the Sociology of Science (published by Princeton University Press, 2003).. His dissertation in Renaissance Studies at Yale received the John Addison Porter Prize and is the basis of The Pale Cast of Thought: Hesitation and Decision in the Renaissance Epic (University of Delaware Press, 1998).

ARTstor In an age where internet and digital databases are the gathering point for many copyright debates, Jstor and ARTstor are striving to strike a balance between accessibility and accountability. Founded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation in the late 1990s, ARTstor sought to harness the potential of digitization for making culturally important images more readily available to institutions of higher learning. In an interview with the Coalition for Networked Information, Shulman likened ARTstor to a special collections library where whole curated bodies of research and primary sources are available for digital search. ARTstor makes sources available for scholars and students while being sure not to violate the trust of artists, museums, and other image providers. Due to the flexible nature of a digital database for art, ARTstor has moved beyond simple slide-show capabilities to Quicktime, 3D, and other media files, which can be harnessed for educational use with an Offline Image Viewer. “Initial content in ARTstor is focused on images that have been a vital part of the teaching and research in art, art history, and architecture for decades. However, ARTstor also offers the opportunity to open up typically siloed collections—to make an institution’s own special collections more broadly available and for individual researchers and students to add their own digital images. These scenarios broaden the scope of ARTstor beyond just “art” and create an interdisciplinary base of digital images for research and teaching across the institution.” Like any image database, ARTstor faces the challenge of trying to make images searchable through words, thus one of their priorities is to use a “controlled vocabulary” using things like the Union List of Artist’s Names and the Art and Architecture Thesaurus for standards of cataloguing.


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