Simpler, Faster, Better SAHARA Re-launches March 9

SAHARA, the online image library for members of the Society of Architectural Historians, debuts a new interface on Monday, March 9th.  Initially developed with a grant from the Mellon Foundation in collaboration with Artstor, this new system uses Artstor’s Shared Shelf platform to give users more flexib

ility with image contribution and documentation, and to enable wider sharing of digital content.  SAHARA continues to enable users to share their work with the SAH community, while providing a rigorous, peer-reviewed process by which select images may be published to the Artstor digital library. The essential functions of SAHARA are the same in Shared Shelf, only easier.

Since its launch in 2010, hundreds of scholars have generously contributed over 60,000 high quality images of buildings, sites and landscapes around the globe, from the canonical to the commonplace. The collection continues to grow in breadth and scope, with coverage that spans every inhabited continent. At the same time, its editorial team of 25 historians and VR librarians ensures that images are of high quality and descriptive content is accurate, complete, and represents current scholarship.  

For the re-launch, SAHARA’s co-editors, Jackie Spafford and Jeffrey Klee, have worked with Pauline Saliga to refine the cataloguing system to make it easier for scholars to use while retaining the high quality of descriptive information that has made it an invaluable resource for architectural historians and a model collaborative project for digital humanities scholars. Two key features of the new system are a spreadsheet-style viewer for managing multiple images, and a bulk-editing feature which allows entry of common descriptive information. These features significantly reduce the time spent cataloguing images and will be a welcome enhancement for scholars accustomed to writing labels on 35mm slide mounts.

The new system incorporates new search and display features, as well. Groups of images can be downloaded directly to PowerPoint and image groups can also be created and shared with others, including non-SAH members.

Finally, SAHARA’s use of Shared Shelf allows for selective exposure of content outside SAHARA and Artstor, allowing the SAH to develop web galleries that can be published on an open access Omeka website. Artstor’s development of this tool means that SAHARA content can now help fulfill the SAH’s mission to share the work of its members well beyond the academy. To learn more about SAHARA, and to contribute original photography of the built environment, visit

About SAH

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by vocation or avocation, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs. Learn more at

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