Wageningen University & Research

Transform the global visibility of research outputs

Student in the library at Wageningen University & Research

"Today’s present is tomorrow’s past, and with CONTENTdm, we are working with researchers and the library’s special collections to create the historical artifacts of the future."

Joke Webbink
Information Specialist and Project Leader, Wageningen University & Research Library

A digital collection curated by Wageningen University & Research’s library, Root System Drawings, generated intense social media activity, resulting in an in-depth article on root systems in The Washington Post. This was one of many successes for the library team that demonstrates the role CONTENTdm® can play in showcasing unique research outputs and special collections.

Researchers at this prestigious agricultural university generate a huge number of images of global significance. “Our collections combine human-interest photos from the past with scientific research that is up to date and often ahead of its time,” said Joke Webbink, Information Specialist and Project Leader. Making the image collections available online through CONTENTdm opens them up to a global audience and boosts their impact.

Joke scans every university newsletter, and when she spots an interesting item, she contacts the researcher to ask them to contribute their research images to a library collection. “Some have even told me that they feel honored to be asked to contribute to CONTENTdm,” said Joke.

The library provides tools to help researchers feed their specialist knowledge into metadata creation, and some researchers take a hands-on approach. For one group of images, “We worked with the researcher to load them on to CONTENTdm as a collection,” said Paulien van Vredendaal, Information Specialist. “He was happy to spend a day with us entering the metadata.”

"We now have some stunning treasures within CONTENTdm, such as the tulip book of Pieter Cos, published in 1637. But many of our most impressive artifacts are hidden away in the library. We’re working to make more and more of them accessible online while continuing to support researchers."

Paulien van Vredendaal, Information Specialist

The team has raised awareness of the collections in a number of imaginative ways, including features in the library newsletter, blog posts, and promotional videos. They’ve also gotten creative with greeting cards and jigsaw puzzles featuring images from the collections.

And this work is paying off. Usage of the library’s CONTENTdm site has grown exponentially. In one year, the number of users grew by around 600%. More than half of these users now access the collections via a mobile device, which may be due to the COVID-19 pandemic and CONTENTdm’s responsive interface.

Recently, the university moved to CONTENTdm hosted. “In the beginning, we viewed CONTENTdm primarily as a catalog of images,” said Paulien. “But with the cloud version, the emphasis has shifted to promoting the image collections themselves. That’s an important development for us. We’d really like OCLC to develop a tool for online exhibitions within CONTENTdm.”

Building on this success, the library team intend to continue expanding the collections and their value. They plan to make all the collections more visible to global researchers by adding them to WorldCat® using the WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway. They’re also working on an online exhibition featuring images from one of the collections. And they’re exploring the use of IIIF standards to suggest useful textual and image-based resources when users are searching for content on the wider web.

Today’s research is tomorrow’s heritage. The library’s use of CONTENTdm gives the university’s researchers a tool to store and share their images, increasing the value of special collections and research assets by making them more visible.

Services used by Wageningen University & Research Library


WorldShare Management Services



  • Wageningen, Netherlands

Library at a glance

  • Supports the world’s number one agricultural university as ranked by the National Taiwan Ranking
  • Helps the university fulfill its mission to explore the potential of nature to improve our quality of life
  • Curates the university’s outstanding collections of research outputs that date from the 1400s to the present day with a strong focus on digital resources

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