Zoom in to 9.3 Million Internet Archive Books and Images– through IIIF



Imagine you could zoom seamlessly into to this rare Klimt painting  to inspect the finest brush strokes?  Or arrange the pages of a medieval manuscript on a virtual desktop to analyze and annotate them?  Now you can right here.  

Cultural institutions around the globe, including the Internet Archive, are making images more dynamic through the International Image Interoperability Framework.  This common technical framework and open standard is enabling university libraries such as Stanford’s, museums such as the Getty, and national institutions such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France to share content in a seamless and dynamic way.  The key is IIIF’s interoperability.  Now for the first time, scholars can assemble the pages of a centuries old manuscript held in dozens of libraries around the world, right on their computers.

Thanks to the efforts of a volunteer engineer, Mek  Karpeles and Stanford University Library’s Drew Winget, the Internet Archive is proud to release 9.3 million items into the IIIF ecosystem through our new product incubator and laboratory, Archivelab.  By visiting the service at http://iiif.archivelab.org, you will find a full list of the unique ID codes for more than nine million Internet Archive texts and images accessible by our IIIF proxy server. The technical community can contribute to Mek’s code at https://github.com/mekarpeles/iiif.archive.org and explore documentation for the Archive’s IIIF implementation at http://iiif.archivelab.org/documentation.

Here are a few reasons we think this is significant for our partners around the world:

  • Any book or text you upload into archive.org will automatically become available in IIIF format.
  • You can search for items on Archive.org and the ID’s are identical—so you know any book in our archive will be accessible at http://iiif.archivelab.org.

Take for instance this digital copy of Plato’s works in archive.org.

Next, explore how you can zoom in when this same book is accessed through our IIIF server.  

  • IIIF is interoperable with other university systems, so you can compare items side by side, or assemble them into a custom “manifest” or grouping with pieces from different institutions.
  • You don’t have to create your own “manifests” for the presentation of pages into books—it’s done for you automatically by our derive process

You could drag this manifest of Plato’s Works into a presentation platform such as Project Mirador and compare the Internet Archive’s copy with Yale’s or Oxford’s.

  • Those without the technical resources to set up their own IIIF server can now just draw items from ours
  • We’re one of the first institutions to provide a comprehensive catalogue of all our IIIF items—a crucial step to making this truly useful to scholars and patrons.  Right now it’s indecipherable to anyone but a software engineer, but in the future we believe this type of transparency will ignite better discovery of IIIF assets everywhere.

Our efforts with IIIF are in an early pilot phase.  It’s one of the first experiments in the new Archive Lab incubator, and there will be many opportunities to make IIIF images useful to the public.  Hats off to the dedicated engineering of Mek Karpeles, Drew Winget and the Internet Archive’s Hank Bromley.  Digitization Partners: tell us how your institutions are moving forward with this new framework and how we can help.  We hope this may be another foundation upon which we build the libraries of the future together.

9 thoughts on “Zoom in to 9.3 Million Internet Archive Books and Images– through IIIF

  1. Phelonious Punk

    Your project is fascinating to say the least. Unfortunately it’s not working too good. Many of he links are dead and some lead to pages of code. I did get the Plato book working on the first example but the second only worked for a couple of pages and then i found myself staring at a black screen waiting for something to happen. Good luck. I will visit later and see if it works then.



    1. Wendy Hanamura Post author

      Hi PP,
      I tried all the links and found they work. When you click the “assemble pages” link you do get a black page, but wait a few seconds and you get a big + sign. Hit that an you can see lots of options of IIF books.

      The catalogue is sadly, still just 9.3 M lines of code. But put into a presentation layer that could be quite a catalogue don’t you think?

      The Plato book works well for me all the way through. I’ve sent your comments to Drew and MEK though who may have some ideas for making your first dip into IIIF more enjoyable.


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