The Bodleian Libraries’ collections are extraordinary and significant—both from a scholarly point of view and as material that has an historic and aesthetic richness that holds value for non-academic users. Each year the Libraries serve more than 65,000 readers, over 40% of them from beyond the University, while its critically-acclaimed exhibitions attract almost 100,000 visitors annually. In an effort to make portions of our collections open to a wide variety of users from around the world for learning, teaching and research, the Bodleian Libraries have been digitizing library content for nearly twenty years. The result is over 650,000 freely available digital objects and almost another 1 million images awaiting release.
Like many academic libraries, though, our freely available digital collections have been placed online in project-driven websites, with content stored in discrete ‘silos’, each with their own metadata format, different user interfaces, and no common search interface enabling users to discover content or navigate across collections. Some of our collections are linked at portal pages, but each collection remains, with a few exceptions, isolated and difficult to search. In addition, only a few collections offer a machine-readable interface, or any way to link their data with similar data in other Bodleian collections, or with collections at other institutions.
Digital.Bodleian aims to solve these problems by:
- Bringing together our discrete collections under a single user interface which supports fast user-friendly viewing of high resolution images.
- Standardizing the metadata for each collection to facilitate faceted browsing and searching across collections.
- Converting all of our images in a variety of formats to JPEG2000 and migrating them to a robust scalable storage infrastructure.
- Allowing users to tag and annotate images and group together content into their own virtual collections which can be shared with other users.
- Allowing users to export metadata and images.
All of these tasks have been carried out using standards-compliant file formats and methods and with a view to future expansion, scalability and robustness.