Practical Applications of IIIF as a Building Block Towards a Digital National Collection

Joe Padfield*, Charlotte Bolland, Neil Fitzgerald, Anne McLaughlin, Glen Robson, Melissa Terras

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paper

Abstract / Description of output

Although a vast amount of digitised content has been created relating to our world-leading cultural heritage collections, digital resources often languish in institutional silos without the ability to combine or cross-reference them. The ‘Practical Applications of IIIF as a Building Block Towards a National Collection’ project has highlighted and demonstrated the opportunities and benefits the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) open standard can offer to institutions, researchers, scholars, and students to open up these silos and to describe, present and re-use digital resources at scale. The project has explored how IIIF can virtually connect digitised collections from different organisations and how these digital resources can be used as the foundations for further research. It has experimented with presenting IIIF resources for utilisation by diverse audiences and considered ways in which IIIF can be used to lower barriers to uptake as well as create new opportunities for digital re-interpretation and presentation. Efficient methods of using IIIF to build collaborative online resources have also been explored to begin to demonstrate the potential for dynamic, cross collection searching. As the organisation, presentation and re-use of digital resources would be a fundamental element of a digital National Collection, the project sought to highlight how the consistent advocacy for, use and ongoing support of this type of established and mature set of interoperable open standards is the only realistic way of connecting, at a national level, hundreds if not thousands of collections and sources of digital resources together in an economically feasible and sustainable manner.

The project findings show that IIIF is a mature, established ecosystem, and operates beyond a purely presentational layer. Adoption of this shared standard will ultimately drive down delivery costs while providing a standardised base for a user experience, that has the opportunity and potential to be built upon by various initiatives (as shown with the project demonstrators).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherArts and Humanities Research Council AHRC
Number of pages144
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameTowards a National Collection

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • IIIF
  • Digital Humanities
  • Digital Cultural Heritage


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