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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday February 7, 2017

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Gregory Markus

Gregory Markus

EuropeanaTech Community Manager , Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision

portrait of Antoine Isaac

Antoine Isaac

R&D Manager , Europeana Foundation

IIIF adoption by Europeana: future perspectives for the Network

Sharing of high quality images on the Web, something many take for granted, has in recent years become a focal point for cultural heritage institutions across the globe. The Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) is at the core of this collaborative effort. Europeana has become fully committed to IIIF, its community and its goals for the past year, and will take its engagement further with the launch of a new Task Force.

A cat looking through a telescope
Chat "regardant" à travers une longue-vue et autre chat perché dessus
Bibliothèque nationale de France

As reported in a previous blog, we have created an IIIF profile for the Europeana Data Model (EDM) that makes EDM interoperable with the IIIF standard. This enables Europeana data providers to reference their IIIF resources in the Europeana Collections portal and the Europeana APIs. Our approach, which was designed in collaboration with the IIIF community, is followed by others. Very recently, the project has extended its own data model with the EDM profile for IIIF, and re-used its data guidelines in order to enable IIIF images within the viewer of Numishare and Coinage of the Roman Republic Online.

However, while Europeana Foundation and several Network institutions have signed on to and committed to implementing IIIF, there is still a large part of the Europeana Network unaware of the work being done by IIIF and how to get involved. Therefore, after hosting IIIF working group meet-ups in Amsterdam, Europeana is taking longer-term actions to ensure that the Network is well informed about IIIF solutions and their benefits, and how it can be involved in appropriate developments of the technology.

For that reason, EuropeanaTech just launched a new IIIF Task Force. Led by the Austrian National Library, it intends to identify the current trends and tendencies in the adoption of the IIIF technology by Europeana content providers.

The Europeana Network of content providers being so large and diverse, simply recommending partners to implement IIIF wouldn’t be that efficient. The network is at varying levels of digital solvency, and their collections include images corresponding to different kinds of cultural objects, which could benefit from the availability of specific IIIF implementation recipes. At a time when IIIF is devising extensions to cope with other types of content (e.g, audiovisual or 3D), Europeana partners owning such content in their collections could provide crucial input. In order to move forward together, an initial assessment of the landscape is necessary, otherwise there could be a risk of seeing some institutions left behind, which does little to serve our collective good of presenting cultural heritage in the best way possible. The Task Force will evaluate what requirements are necessary in terms of sharing content within the Europeana Network, and give appropriate recommendations for future application of IIIF technologies within the Europeana ecosystem - as well as for potential contributions from the Network to the IIIF community.

On another note, Europeana Foundation has just been nominated to join the IIIF Executive Committee, the governing body for the IIIF consortium. This nomination will ensure that the Network is appropriately represented and heard through the Foundation, and with the help of other Network members involved in the IIIF community. It is also the acknowledgement that European cultural institutions are starting to play a key role, after a phase in which the bulk of IIIF development and adoption has taken place in the US - and this is something we must feel proud of!

The next Annual IIIF meeting will take place in Europe, on June 6-9 at the Vatican. Proposals are still welcome: be sure to register in due time if you are interested!

If you can’t wait until June, the National Library of Scotland and University of Edinburgh are holding a IIIF technical workshop and IIIF use-case showcase on 16-17 March.