IIIF: Improving the Interoperability of Digital Materials

IIIF (the International Image Interoperability Framework) is an emerging set of standards for sharing structural metadata about digital materials. Focused around a set of five APIs, the IIIF standard provides ways to access, view, search, and share digital images, audio, and video. OCLC Research has worked closely with our OCLC product and implementation colleagues to support IIIF in CONTENTdm. This work has included prototyping data conversion and workflow as well as keeping the CONTENTdm team up-to-date on IIIF developments.

OCLC is a founding member of the IIIF Consortium and regularly attends the IIIF Technical Working Meeting and IIIF Annual Meeting. We provide updates on how OCLC products incorporate IIIF, as well as share ongoing research work involving IIIF. We are also members of various IIIF Working Groups helping to develop new IIIF APIs and to build community best practices for using IIIF.

OCLC Research has been evaluating the new IIIF Change Discovery API as a syndication and aggregation protocol. This experimental work has confirmed the benefits of standardization around the IIIF APIs. Our work included retrieving data via our experimental implementation of the API standard to build an aggregation of around 13 million image descriptions contained in OCLC’s CONTENTdm digital content system.

We created an index based on that aggregation and prototyped a “IIIF Explorer” user interface for discovery. This effort surfaced metadata analysis and synthesis challenges associated with combining resource descriptions created by a wide range of cataloging agencies with diverse practices and suggested potential remedies for improving descriptive and technical metadata for cultural heritage collections with shared, decentralized tools and workflows in the hands of the data providers and domain experts.  

Based on findings from this research, OCLC has launched a CONTENTdm Linked Data Pilot project focused on managing cultural heritage materials.  


  • Contribute new CONTENTdm IIIF features and API support
  • Create prototypes for testing new IIIF developments 
  • Contribute to development of IIIF Community best practices
  • Contribute to the continued development of IIIF standards

Support Materials



In this webinar, Software Engineer Jeff Mixter and Product Manager Shane Huddleston share the work OCLC has been doing to support the emerging IIIF and a behind-the-scenes look at how prototype work within OCLC Research has contributed to integrating IIIF into production services.


This work evolved out of close collaboration with our CONTENTdm product and implementation colleagues and their interest in adopting IIIF support in CONTENTdm. OCLC Research helped prototype how CONTENTdm data could be adapted to support IIIF. OCLC staff (Jeff Mixter and Shane Huddleston) are active in the IIIF Community, participating in Working Groups and attending IIIF Meetings. OCLC Research work is now focused on how the IIIF data can be leveraged to help improve CONTENTdm as a product. There is also a lot of work being done to help improve the IIIF standard and test new/emerging IIIF APIs and best practices.


Jeff Mixter (Project Lead)

Bruce Washburn

Shane Huddleston (CONTENTdm)

Taylor Surface (CONTENTdm)


IIIF Presentations