IIIF Workshop & Showcase Report

Last week I attended the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) workshop and showcase organised to great effect by the University of Edinburgh & the National Library of Scotland. As discussed in previous posts, IIIF is a new approach that allows museums and galleries to display and unify their collection images online.

IIIF rainbow by Edinburgh Castle. © Richard Palmer

Workshop

The workshop (run as an Unconference) provided an opportunity for staff from various organisations, at different stages of IIIF implementation, to talk and learn from each other. The room was split into those just starting out on the IIIF rainbow, and those closer to the pot of gold. Although the V&A has been experimenting with the framework (including our first implementation as part of the Opus Anglicanum exhibition), we are still considering how it will fit into our internal processes and workflows (ideally, as automated as possible). So, particularly useful for us at the workshop was to see and hear how other institutions are integrating it into their systems, because although the solutions are not completely transferable, the approaches taken (or not taken) can inform our work. As Tolstoy so nearly said, “Happy workflows are not all alike but related; every unhappy workflow is unhappy in its own isolated way”.

It was also interesting to hear from the Discovery and AV workgroups about developments in these areas; and the opportunities for us all to help out with developing extensions to the framework. Discovery of resources is obviously starting to become an issue. As more and more objects and collections are made available via IIIF, maintaining hard-coded lists of top level collection URLs to discover the resources is not an approach that can work beyond a certain scale. And whilst we do not have as extensive AV holdings as other institutions, we of course would like to be able to present those video and audio files we do have in annotatable form. So we will follow the progress of these groups and support where possible.

Showcase

The second day was a showcase from many of those who took part in the workshop to present “the story so far with IIIF” to staff from museums and libraries who were keen to learn about it. The talks ranged from succinct introductions given by developers from companies such as Digerati and CogApp, who are involved in developing the standards, to talks from colleagues at universities and libraries, such as University College Dublin, the National Library of Wales , Durham University etc. that focussed on integration work and how they are using IIIF as part of research projects (including one of particular interest to us on crowdsourcing).

Overall the two days provided us with a great deal of support, helped us with queries we had on many of the integration complexities we have been considering (particularly around annotations), and let us learn from and be inspired by work taking place in the area.  We look forward to future meetings where we will be able to share more of our own work.

Many thanks to the organisers, Claire Knowles at the UoE and Gil Hamilton at the NLS for putting on such a stimulating event.

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