The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Share your collections online to foster the spread of information
"Things do not exist in a vacuum. They are connected and interconnected in ways that sometimes we don't know or don't see. Having linked data allows for that connection."
Digital Projects Librarian
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens owes its unique collection to its founder, Henry Huntington, who “would buy up entire libraries and ship them from England to the United States,” explained Digital Projects Librarian Mario Einaudi. “The Huntington collects a huge amount of material in history of medicine, science, and technology,” he continued. “We have a very large photographic collection, including the Southern California Edison (SCE) collection, and over 150,000 pieces of ephemera.”
Before 2011, The Huntington did not have any online resources, so scholarship was limited to those researchers who could visit the library in person. “One of the reasons we got CONTENTdm was because we had no way to place our digitized images online,” Mario said. The library now has more than 216,000 digital objects accessible to the public online. And with CONTENTdm’s integration with IIIF, researchers worldwide can closely examine and compare these objects with material in other collections without leaving their offices.
"We can now—using our IIIF-compliant materials—place side by side images from disparate collections that then perform our storytelling function."
“Southern California Edison, one of the largest power suppliers in southern California, gave us their entire archives, including over 75,000 images and 400 reels of film along with their paper archives,” Mario continued. “SCE uses our CONTENTdm site heavily to research images of various plant development and archeology, because they want photographic evidence of how the plants changed over time.” The IIIF-compliant features in CONTENTdm® and the Mirador viewer make this kind of comparison especially easy. “When I mentioned beginning to use Mirador to the SCE archaeologist,” Mario said, “she got really excited because she saw the potential of putting two images of the same plant next to each other from ten years or a hundred years apart.”
CONTENTdm’s IIIF integration has helped the library with “breaking down these different silos of material,” Mario said. As an international standard, IIIF goes beyond allowing the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to harvest digital content. Researchers from all over the world can discover The Huntington Library’s digital collections and compare items with those in other collections. “It allows us to really reach out to others who might not know we have that material,” he continued. “It’s satisfying for me as a librarian to know that they can find it and use it, that it has value.” He added, “Other researchers are also very, very excited to know that we have IIIF and that we’re using it. Shared linked data is really the way of the future.”
- San Marino, California, United States
- Located on 207 acres that include botanical gardens, research centers, and galleries
- Serves 1,700 scholars annually through an academic research center
- Provides educational programs for 20,000 school children each year
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