The Artstor Digital Library shares as many versions of images and metadata records as are provided to us by our contributors, foregrounding the highest resolution image and its associated metadata record.
Since each contributor has unique metadata, the cataloging and descriptive data we receive can vary greatly. This extends to the use (or absence) of standardized vocabularies, choice of terminology, and metadata schema. While we seek to preserve the characteristics of the source data, we also strive to ensure that descriptive data is accurate. Though facts may be scarce and/or scholarly opinions differ, we are committed to facilitating the ongoing work of educators and students as well as scholars and researchers who welcome and often benefit from varying metadata records that might reflect different modes of thinking, historical trends, or phases of scientific research.
The features described below are intended to enhance discovery and access for all of our educational users—scholars, curators, educators, librarians, and students.
Current and ongoing metadata work
Artstor enables all collections in the Digital Library to be searched and browsed by object-type classification (e.g. painting, architecture, etc.), country/region, and earliest and latest date. Artstor librarians add information to records rather than altering the source data. The classification terms are applied from an in-house controlled list (painting, sculpture, etc.); the country terms are from the Getty Research Institute’s Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN); and numeric earliest and latest dates are created for each record. The Artstor Advanced Search and Browse functions depend on these consistent access points to improve access to all collections. These enhancements are not visible within the metadata records but operate behind the scenes to facilitate discovery.
We often receive duplicates or details of the same work from contributors. With over 2.5 million assets (and growing), it can be challenging for users to find all the images of a given work. To alleviate this problem, Artstor groups or “clusters” duplicates and details representing a unique work. We cluster all the images of the unique work “behind” a lead image that both represents the entire work and provides the highest quality. While we have targeted highly searched works and artists for clustering, we have not applied this strategy across the entire Digital Library.
Drawing upon user-curated image groups, Artstor is also able to present associated images. Artstor determines which images are saved in conjunction with other specific images by users making groups. We assume that images saved repeatedly in such associated groups are related in ways that are useful to teachers and scholars. These collaboratively filtered groups conveniently bring together many works associated with the lead images.
Standard vocabularies or thesauri are particularly significant for discovery because of the diversity among Artstor collections. Artstor uses the Getty Research Institute’s Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) to match artists’ names with an authoritative creator record. Links established between the source creator name and the ULAN creator record allow searching for works by any part or variant of an artist’s name to find images linked to the ULAN creator record. We intend to extend this matching of source data to external vocabularies into other areas of information such as repository names, geographical locations, styles, and periods.
Contributing to ULAN
In addition to matching our data records to ULAN, Artstor is adding authorized creator names to an authority we call the Artstor Name Authority (ANA). These new names, as well as those that are added to ANA through JSTOR Forum, will be submitted to the Getty Research Institute to add to ULAN. Since libraries and institutions around the world rely upon the Getty vocabularies, contributing new creator name records will benefit the communities that utilize the Getty’s name authority for cataloging cultural heritage objects and images.
Artstor, as a community-built resource, is working on ways to facilitate the contribution of useful information by our community of scholars, visual resource professionals, and other knowledgeable users. Such a tagging initiative would allow expert users to contribute cataloging information, comment upon existing information, and provide scholarly commentary about the images, underlying works, and/or the data provided in the current record.