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Workshop Working with IIIF images in education, communication and research

About the Workshop

  • Topic: The benefits of digital Images in IIIF format for education, research, and public engagement.
  • Focus: Medieval manuscripts, but also applicable to other types of objects.
  • Methodology: Brief explanation + inspiring examples + assignments for participants.
  • Intended audience: No IT knowledge required. Suitable for anyone working with digital images of books, paintings, prints, coins, etc. Previous participants include staff and students at: KU Leuven, Ghent University, European Lettering Institute, Columbia University, Flemish Heritage Libraries, National Library of Slovenia, York University, Cork University, IIIF Consortium.
  • Practical information: 120 minutes, in-person or online.
  • Interested? Contact us to schedule a workshop at your institution or explore the workshop at your own pace below. We particularly welcome 'train-the-trainer' sessions.

IIIF in a really tiny nutshell

  • IIIF = International Image Interoperability Framework
  • Digital innovation for more efficient and sustainable management, sharing, and utilization of digital images. A brief explanation of IIIF can be found here.
  • Applied by a growing number of institutions worldwide, for instance BnF, Vatican Library, British Library, Getty Museum, University Libraries of Ghent/Leuven/Antwerp, Bruges Public Library.

Some benefits of IIIF for end-users

  1. Smaller carbon footprint: Efficient sharing and reuse of digital images reduces the need for multiple downloads, copies, or local storage. This reduces the demand for server space and network bandwidth. As a result, less energy is required for data storage and transmission. (Looking for more ways to dramatically reduce your digital carbon footprint? Start with this eye-opening webinar by Europeana Pro!)
  2. Easy and enhanced viewing options across institutions: Thanks to IIIF, digital images are no longer confined to local systems. Say goodbye to switching between different websites and user interfaces! You can seamlessly bring together images from various institutions in a uniform working environment.
  3. Dynamic images with rich context: When you use a IIIF image in editorial content (e.g. blog or virtual exhibition), your reader has the option to zoom out to see the larger picture and has access to additional information in the metadata descriptions.
  4. Open source tools for working with images in education, communication, research, and even gaming.
  5. Community: IIIF is developed by an enthusiastic community of cultural heritage specialists and IT developers. The results are always open source, allowing everyone to contribute to innovation.

Visit the IIIF Consortium website for more information on the benefits of IIIF.

Good to know before you start

  • Bookmark this page. We'll often refer to external websites.
  • Manifest URLs: Every digital object (book, painting, drawing, sculpture...) that is available in IIIF has a manifest URL. The manifest URL is the key to use this object in IIIF tools. But... not every object is available (yet) in IIIF.
  • IIIF tools and websites do not depend on the institutions (libraries, museums, archives) that manage collections. They are developed by a community of developers and special collections specialists.
    • Viewers are designed to consult manuscripts. Universal Viewer and Mirador are two of the most widely used IIIF viewers.
    • Guided viewing tools are designed to create virtual tours. Mmmonk works with the Exhibit tool, but there are other tools available.
    • The IIIF Consortium website contains a list of interesting IIIF tools.

Find and copy the manifest URL

What are we looking for?

A manifest is the "packaging" in json code around the digital images and metadata. Each manifest has a URL (i.e. the information in your browser's address bar). This URL is stable and is the key to work with the images and metadata.

A manifest URL contains the words IIIF and manifest(s). For instance:

  • https: //
  • https: //
  • https: //
  • https: //

IIIF is used by a growing number of institutions, but is not yet used everywhere, so the object of your choice might not yet have a manifest URL.

Some examples of where and how to find manifest URLs

Specific institution: Look for the words 'IIIF manifest URL' or the IIIF logo in the metadata (descriptions) of an object in the institution's online catalogue. Some examples, all starting from an item's individual record (catalogue description):

  • Ghent University Library > go to ‘For developers’;
  • KU Leuven > go to ‘View online’ > open the manuscript in Teneo > go to ‘information’ (‘Permalink IIIF manifest’).
  • Gallica BnF > click on the IIIF logo in the left sidebar > click on the information 'i' logo in the right upper corner to open the metadata for the object > the manifest is at the bottom of the metadata
  • Cambridge University Digital Library Many options, among others the obvious 'Manifest URL' button.
  • Getty Museum > Filter on 'open content images' > search for object > manifest is at the bottom of the record, under 'APIs & other identifiers'
  • Musea Brugge > manifest is at the bottom of the record, under 'Linked Open Data'
  • Library of Congress > 'manifest' is listed at the bottom of the record > open the manifest > copy the URL
  • For an extensive (but not exhaustive) list, visit the Guides to finding IIIF resources on the website.

World wide initiatives with IIIF resources: Most initiatives to build large collections with IIIF resources are driven by the manuscripts community. We would welcome any examples of initiatives with paintings and other media.

  • Biblissima IIIF Collections: This website tries to gather all of the available manifests of manuscripts and rare books in the world (but is not exhaustive yet). Some 89.000 IIIF compliant manuscripts and rare books! Includes giant collections like Gallica (BnF) and e-codices.
  • Irish Script on Screen: Over 450 IIIF compliant Irish manuscripts from worldwide institutions.
  • Fragmentarium: Circa 5400 IIIF compliant medieval manuscript fragments.

Mmmonk: Go to the page of a manuscript (e.g. this breviary) > the link is right below the viewer.

Copy the URL

  • Select and copy the URL. This is the key you need to work with this object.
  • Sometimes it will also be possible to drag and drop the IIIF logo next to the URL.
  • If you click on the URL, the manifest will open in your web browser. You will see a page filled with json code. Don't panic! You don't need the code, only the URL.

Shortcut for this workshop

For the purpose of this workshop you can save time by using manifests from our hand-picked list of interesting items.

Share a detail on an image via Universal Viewer

You have found an interesting detail in a manuscript and wish to share this with someone or to save it for yourself. Instead of downloading the image or taking a screen shot, you can share or bookmark a URL with coordinates.

Detail of an image in Universal Viewer
Detail of an image in Universal Viewer

How to

  1. Select and copy the manifest URL of the object of your choice, for instance
  2. Open the website
  3. Copy the URL to ‘Paste the URL of a IIIF manifest here to see the UV in action!’
  4. Browse the manuscript and zoom in on an interesting detail. (Watch how the coordinates in the URL change as you zoom or move. The coordinates make it possible to share a specific area of an image.)
  5. Copy the URL with the coordinates or use the share button in the viewer. Share the URL in a message, copy it to a document, or bookmark the page.

Assignment 1 (manuscript)

Find the coat of arms of Abbot Jan Crabbe in Ms. 157/188 from Bruges Grootseminarie. Zoom in on this detail and share it with another participant (via chat or mail) or save it in your browser.

manifest URL

Assignment 2 (painting)

Find the parakeet on the painting Madonna with Canon Joris Van der Paele by Jan van Eyck (Groeningemuseum Bruges). Zoom in on this detail and share it with another participant (via chat or mail) or save it in your browser.

manifest URL painting:

Compare objects in Mirador

You have found an interesting manuscript at the British Library and wish to compare it with a manuscript from Bruges Public Library and a painting from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Each of these institutions has their own viewers, with specific rules and functionalities. This can be burdensome for researchers, going back and forth between websites. The Mirador viewer allows you to gather these objects (images + descriptions!) in a single uniform viewing environment.

Comparing cyclopes in the Mirador viewer
Comparing cyclopes in the Mirador viewer

How to

  1. Select and copy the manifest URL of your object.
  2. Open the website (Close the examples by Van Gogh and of Krishna.)
  3. Click ‘start here’.
  4. Click ‘add resource’.
  5. Add the manifest URL and click ‘add’. Your object is now the first in the list of resources.
  6. Click on your object to add it to your collage.
  7. Repeat these steps as often as you wish to add objects to your collage.
  8. Save your collage by clicking on the three dots in the menu on the right. Hit 'export workspace' > ‘view workspace configuration’, select the body of text and save it to a document or notepad for later use. Open a collage by importing the saved text into ‘import workspace’.

Assignment 1 - Liber Floridus

Compare the Liber Floridus manuscripts at Ghent University Library (Ms. 92) and at Chantilly Bibliothèque et archives du château (Ms. 724).

Ms. 92 manifest URL:

Ms. 724 manifest URL:

Assignment 2 - Create your own collage

Find images of a specific iconographical topic using the Biblissima Portal. Make a collage in Mirador with at least three images.

Tip: Take into account that the website's descriptions are written in French and/or English. Searching for terms like Apocalypse, dragon, Jerusalem… yields the best results for this assignment.

Assignment 3 - Add items to an existing collage

We have prepared collages on Behemoth, Boethius, Juvenal and cyclopes for you to play with.

  • Go to this page,
  • select a collage,
  • import the code into a Mirador workspace,
  • and start adding items to the collage.

Create a virtual tour with Exhibit

You'd like to create an online exhibition on one or more manuscripts. Instead of collecting, cropping and uploading images, you can collect manifest URLs in the Exhibit tool. You can even alternate the images with YouTube videos for a more dynamic effect. Visitors can zoom in and out on the images and can easily consult the metadata of the images. As a result, the images are not separated from their context!

Creating a virtual tour with Exhibit
Creating a virtual tour with Exhibit


How to

  1. Go to > ‘Create an Exhibit’
  2. Choose the format (Kiosk plays automatically, Scroll lets visitors scroll through the tour, Slide is a slideshow, Quiz presents multiple choice questions)
  3. Fill in the required fields and ‘create exhibit’. You can always come back to this menu to make changes.
  4. Bookmark the URL or save it in a document. Exhibit does not use accounts and log-ins. The URL is the only way to return to your work.
  5. Click ‘add item’.
  6. Paste a manifest URL in the bar at the bottom and click 'import'.
  7. Select this resource in the list of resources and hit 'add to exhibit'.
  8. Browse through the manuscript to the page of your choice and zoom in on the detail of your choice.
  9. Hit the '+' bar ('add new'). This opens the annotation module. Write your annotation. You can still modify the image at this point.
  10. Hit the 'check' button below the annotation to save the annotation and the image. Would you like to show another page in the same manuscript? Then browse through the manuscript to the detail of your choice, click on '+', and create a new step in your tour.
  11. Add as many items/resources as you wish. This can also be a YouTube video.
  12. Go to 'preview' to preview your tour. Hit 'share' to share or embed your tour.


Error report when you import a manifest? Is it possible you've already added this manuscript and that it is already in your list of resources? If not, check the URL for errors.


Select a few manifest URLs from our list and create a tour or quiz. (Bookmark the URL of your workspace!)


Currently, Exhibit and Storiiies are the most popular free IIIF storytelling tools.

  • Exhibit accommodates book materials (i.e. manifests with multiple images = pages or folios) and allows you to integrate YouTube videos into the guided viewing.
  • Storiiies is very popular in museums. It allows you to work with one single image. Access the free editor tool here. Some neat examples here, including a guided viewing of Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors.

Embed a viewer on your website

You have written a blogpost or have created an online course on manuscripts (or other objects). Instead of uploading static images to your website, you can embed a IIIF-viewer to offer a richer experience to your audiences.

This viewer is embedded on this webpage. You can still zoom in or out, leaf through the book, and you have access to the metadata.


Enjoy the functionalities of a viewer (vs. a static, flat image): show a detail but keep the option to zoom out + direct access to metadata descriptions + high resolution + quick + no need to download/save/crop/upload/host images (and pay for server capacity and hosting).


How to

  1. Retrieve the iframes or div embed code via Universal Viewer (> ‘share’). This functionality is sometimes also available in customized viewers on institutional websites.
  2. Embed the iframes code as an alternative for an uploaded jpg in the CMS of your website. Ask your supplier to provide this option when you design a website.

When you use the iframes code, you (the editor of the webpage) will be able to zoom in on a specific detail (via URL coordinates). This is not an option with div code.

Online course with embedded IIIF viewers (
Online course with embedded IIIF viewers (

Download an image

Although IIIF makes it easy to return to online images (and even details on them), sometimes you just want to download an image. No problem, this is still possible with IIIF!

How to

  1. Go to
  2. Paste the manifest URL into the bar and hit ‘view’.
  3. Click on the download logo in the lower left corner of the viewer. Select one of the options. 'Source image file (tiff)' will download the image as it was uploaded by the institution.

Next level

Some next level tricks to facilitate your use of IIIF resources. Under construction.

Collect manifest URLs with DetektIIIF

DetektIIIF is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that detects IIIF resources in websites. It is possible to collect IIIF manifests in a basket and send them to any compatible IIIF application, for instance Mirador and Universal Viewer.

5-Day online course on IIIF by IIIF Community

Our Mmmonk workshop focuses on the use and reuse of IIIF images. Do you want to continue learning about IIIF? Then we highly recommend the 5-day online course by the IIIF Community.

The workshop is split into 5 different areas which were split into 5 days:

Live workshops IIIF

This page is used during live workshops by Mmmonk at higher education and GLAM institutions (e.g. KU Leuven, European Lettering Institute, Ghent University, Columbia University, York University). Contact us if you would like to introduce students and staff at your institution to the benefits of working with IIIF in education, communication and research.