Taking a giant leap forward in sharing Yale's collections with the world

March 18, 2021

Yale’s museums are amongst the oldest and largest university museums globally, with a mission to advance academic scholarship at Yale and beyond. The museums have close to two million digitized objects that make up their collections. Ensuring that these images are available via the web is a big part of exposing their collections to our community and the world.

This spring, the technology ecosystem that supports the museums is taking a giant leap forward as the Digital Asset Technologies team prepares for the formal launch of the new Content Delivery Service (CDS2). The museums each have a collection portal from which users will search for items. The results will contain links to images, and those images are where CDS2 fits in.

CDS2 is a backend system that generates the appropriate image file in the proper size, harvests, and keeps in-sync the object’s metadata, and exposes the image and its metadata via standard application programming interfaces (APIs). It also provides a standard viewing experience leveraging the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF).

The IIIF standards are shared API specifications for interoperable functionality in digital asset repositories. Using JSON-LD, linked data, and standard W3C web protocols such as Web Annotation, IIIF makes it easy to parse and share digitized materials, migrate across technology systems, and provide scholars and researchers enhanced image access. Functionally, IIIF is a set of open standards that help archives, libraries, and museums make the most of their digitized collections with deep zoom, annotation capabilities, and more. Yale’s cultural heritage organizations have adopted the IIIF standard as the method for image delivery, and this launch roughly coincides with the launch of the Library’s new Digital Collections¬†platform.

This work would not have been possible without equal support from each of our museum partners: Yale Center for British Art, Yale Peabody Museum, & the Yale University Art Gallery, and our colleagues in Cloud Engineering.

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