International Image Interoperability Framework

Access to image-based resources is fundamental to many research disciplines, scholarship and the transmission of cultural knowledge. Digital images are a container for much of the information content in the Web-based delivery of images, books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, scrolls, single sheet collections, and even digital surrogates of textiles, realia and ephemera.

Given recent developments on projects in the digital manuscripts and newspapers arena, plus the increasing sophistication of JPEG2000-based image delivery and rich internet applications, the time is ripe for a group of institutions to collaboratively produce an interoperable framework for image delivery. With shared technology, common API’s, and rich user interfaces, this framework has the promise to greatly surpass the current crop of image viewers, page turners, and navigation systems. Further, by conforming to set of standard API’s, these institutions can give scholars an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image based resources, regardless of the holding institution(s). Finally, the framework has the potential to offer a critical mass of content and services to tool developers, giving them an incentive to produce applications that will work within this framework, and creating a marketplace of tools for image manipulation, annotation, transcription and more.


To drive this API definition and common adoption, the British Library and Stanford University are organizing a one-year collaborative effort of a half dozen of the world’s leading institutions in this space. This partnership will manifest itself in cooperative specification, shared development, and two face-to-face workshops to drive progress. Toward the end of the year-long effort, we will disseminate the work to a wider group of potentially interested parties, including research libraries, cultural heritage organizations, and tool developers.


Building a successful framework will require the collaboration of a critical mass of institutions. The following institutions have committed to this effort:

  • Stanford University Libraries
  • The British Library
  • Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University
  • La Bibliothèque nationale de France
  • Nasjonalbiblioteket (National Library of Norway)
  • Los Alamos National Library
  • Cornell University