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Cambridge University Library


In 2015 Cambridge University Library was awarded funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to undertake a scoping project around the adoption of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) as a means of delivering digitised images and data. The goal of the project was to investigate some of the potential issues involved and develop a clear plan and road map for the future adoption of IIIF and potential broader application across the University.

The intention of this project was to gain a deeper understanding of our workflows and tools as well as to explore our digital preservation requirements. One step was to evaluate the various specifications of the JPEG2000 image format along with where and how its use might be appropriate. The aspiration was to develop a prototype IIIF-compliant implementation of the Cambridge Digital Library containing a sample of around a thousand digitised items.

There were a number of set-backs and challenges, but some successful outcomes that surpassed our hopes!

It was concluded that, currently, the full conversion to the JPEG2000 image format would be neither practical nor suitable for long term preservation. The project moved forward with a JPEG2000 format for delivery images only, on which basis we were able to evaluate our workflows and identify many potential improvements. This allowed us to achieve the goal of not only building a prototype IIIF-compliant Cambridge Digital Library, but incorporating it directly into our live website, where now nearly 250,000 images and their associated data are available through IIIF.

For those interested in further technical information:

  • Our preservation requirements for still images have been informed by and matched to ISO/TR 18492:2005 Long-term preservation of electronic document-based information.
  • The JPEG2000 encoding profile used was a 6-1 lossless profile as developed by Matt McGrattan (formerly Bodleian Libraries) based on the British Library’s Robert Buckley profile.
  • Scripts and processes have been developed to implement IIIF/Shared Canvas for CDL as a whole, facilitating making all possible CDL content IIIF-compliant.
  • The IIIF Image API is implemented using the IIIF support provided by the IIP image server. An evaluation version of the Kakadu JPEG2000 software is used by IIP to decode the JP2 images.
  • IIIF Presentation API manifests are generated dynamically, on-demand, from existing metadata, allowing changes to an item’s metadata to be immediately reflected in the IIIF view of the item without any need to maintain multiple derived metadata files.

Interoperability, Images, access, digital preservation, data, shared canvas, IIIF, digitisation, technology

Key People
Ben Outhwaite, Huw Jones, Jennie Fletcher, Tuan Pham, Maciej Pawlikowski

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cambridge University Library, the Digital Preservation Coalition

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