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Artstor Workspace, Shared Shelf Commons, and Artstor Digital Library – What’s the Difference?

Artstor is a nonprofit organization committed to digital collection solutions for universities, museums, schools, and libraries worldwide.  Artstor’s primary goals are to assemble image collections from across many cultures and eras in support of educational and scholarly activities, and to work with the arts and educational communities to develop collective solutions to the challenges of working in a digital environment.

The Artstor Workspace refers to the software platform that includes the tools, functionality and environment within which subscribers of Shared Shelf view both Artstor Digital Library and Shared Shelf content.

The Artstor Digital Library refers specifically to content that is contributed to Artstor. This content is stored on Artstor servers with normalized metadata (to every degree possible), and made available to all Artstor Digital Library subscribers.  In addition, the contributed content undergoes legal review in order to provide indemnification to users of the Artstor Digital Library.

Shared Shelf Commons content lives on its own site ( and, as of a recent release, is also available in an institution’s Artstor Workspace. However, from a legal standpoint, this content is different from the Artstor Digital Library content in that the copyright is owned by (or made available according to fair use principles) by the institutions that have published to Shared Shelf Commons from a Shared Shelf project.  Artstor acts as the online service provider for Shared Shelf Commons content and does not provide indemnification to users like Artstor does for Artstor Digital Library content.