Editor’s note: this post has been updated to reflect the name change from Shared Shelf to JSTOR Forum.

We invited Lisa Laughy, Web Services/Archives Assistant at St. Paul’s School’s Ohrstrom Library in Concord, New Hampshire to tell us about her experience as the first K-12 subscriber to JSTOR Forum (formerly called Shared Shelf), Artstor’s digital media management system.

When I first started looking at software for cataloging our archives photo collection back in 2010, I remember wishing I could find a solution that was just like Artstor – something that combines both a visually rich user experience with the sophistication of professional metadata standards. It took a few years, but it was as if the folks at Artstor read my mind and made my wish come true, when in the fall of 2015 our school was given the opportunity to be one of the first high schools to implement Shared Shelf.

The implementation of Shared Shelf was well supported through instructional webinars and the personal user service of my assigned implementation manager. In addition, Shared Shelf has a well-documented online training resource, and a vibrant email user group that pools the collected experience of other Shared Shelf administrators with customer service support. The Shared Shelf interface is well-designed and intuitive and has made for a frustration-free experience for me – something not at all typical in my work with library technology services.

St. Paul’s School has a photo collection that is similar in size and scope to that of a small town historical society, which in some ways is what it is. The fully residential school, founded in 1856, occupies one of the early townships of Concord, NH, and the photo collection is an interesting combination of student life and local history. When I first began working on the implementation of Shared Shelf it was easy to see that it would be a great fit for the needs of our historic photograph collection and its users. It wasn’t long into the process that I began to understand how versatile a tool it really is, and that its usefulness reaches beyond the archives.

It is this versatility that I find most exciting about Shared Shelf. The administrative tools provide the structure one would expect from a resource like Artstor, but it is the level of customization available within that structure that gives Shared Shelf its strength. Because every aspect of the cataloging process is customizable, even our most quirky collections can be easily accommodated.

Now that I have begun cataloging photographs from our archives collection I am looking forward to discovering new ways to use Shared Shelf in other areas of our school community, to organize and describe additional collections, artefacts and cultural resources that contribute collectively to our academic mission.