Today’s topic is ARTstor, that visually intoxicating cousin of JSTOR.  For those of you unfamiliar with JSTOR, it’s an archive of scholarly journals in almost every possible subject.  In short, it’s amazing both as a reference and a research tool.  Enough of that, I want to show you the digital library (and yes, they do call it this) that is ARTstor.  Need to know the title of a famous painting and don’t know anything but that it has ballerinas and it was done by someone French? No problem!  You can search by theme, painter, year, and a host of other parameters..but that’s a different class.

The impact of ARTstor on the digital library community is important because they challenge us to think outside the box in terms of what can or should be digitized.  One could argue that the main goal of a library is to disseminate information, so why should we care about digitizing art?  I think the fundamental question here is why not art?  Why aren’t we sharing images with the world in the same way we share information?  If you use the cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine just how much ARTstor’s vast collections are worth.  I think it’s important to not limit ourselves to saving great printed works, we need image collections too.  I do know that there are many digital image initiatives currently in progress, and I’m excited about them!

Many of the world’s greatest museums have their holdings on display with ARTstor.  Imagine being able to see some of the greatest artwork from around the world all in one day, all in one place.  Their mission is images for education and scholarship and as such they have highly specialized searching, and they are also willing to let you download and use the images to enhance scholarly activity.  This tool is definitely up any academic library’s alley.  I’ve put the PDF of their holdings in my media library, if anyone’s interested. 🙂