Welcome to the Shared Canvas and IIIF Project space. The goal for this project is to develop a next generation, state of the art page turner application with annotation capabilities for the Harvard Library based on the Shared Canvas/IIIF/Mirador framework.

Product Vision

For the Harvard Library Digital Repository Service (DRS), and for a HarvardX course on the History of the Book, the Library Mirador Page Viewer is a digital book display application that leverages the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), the Shared Canvas / Open Annotation data model and Mirador open source multi-image viewer to provide a state of the art page turner application with annotation capabilities.

Unlike the current DRS Page Delivery Service, the Library Mirador Page Viewer will be based on open source presentation layers, the Shared Canvas data model, provide a state of the art manuscript presentation, and provide a foundation for annotation support in DRS page turned objects.


  • Superlative page turner with full single page or book opening view, full screen zoom/pan, and a table of contents view
  • Ability to display pages from multiple manuscripts for side by side comparison with synchronized zoom/pan
  • Ability for faculty to add text annotations and edit the documents metadata - e.g. change page order, add hierarchy
  • Ability for students to add text annotations to regions of a displayed manuscript image
  • Can display manifests from any institution that supports the IIIF Presentation API

External collaboration meetings

Ghent IIIF Meeting 12/7/15  PPT.


Harvard Library


Roadmap & Themes

These are the major goals or “themes” for the project:

  1. IIIF compatible image delivery service for the DRS
  2. Library Mirador page turner for the DRS
    1. Early functional requirements are detailed here.
  3. Mirador/Shared Canvas page turner for the History of the Book
  4. Discovery and management of IIIF manifest lists
  5. Annotation capability (including time based media)
  6. Newspapers.

Harvard has one of the richest collections of manuscripts and rare books in North America, and has digitized a significant proportion. New uses of that collection will substantially broaden exposure and use. These include DPLA, a proposed EdX course on the history of the book, the Colonial North America project, and teaching and research requirements identified by the Digital Arts and Humanities working group. In combination, these initiatives warrant state of the art presentation of digital facsimiles of Harvard’s collection.

In the past, many institutions developed their own high resolution image viewers and page turners, custom built for their repositories. So it was at Harvard. Digital manuscripts in the DRS are delivered to browsers through the page delivery service (PDS), which displays pages as an ordered sequence of single-page images. PDS in turn uses the DRS image delivery service (IDS) to display full page and thumbnail images, and allow zooming in to view high resolution details. With this approach, however, there is no function to look at two facing pages with the opening between in a single view. Beyond that, the usability of web-based image viewers has evolved considerably since the Harvard PDS and IDS were implemented.

Institutions have realized that there is no benefit and much harm in the continued development of siloed image and page viewers. The proposed project exploits the opportunity to collaborate with a consortium of other universities and libraries led by Stanford, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and others (the Mellon funded Digital Medieval Manuscript Interoperability Initiative, DMSTech, http://lib.stanford.edu/dmm ) to develop new open source image and page viewers based on emerging metadata and web standards, Shared Canvas and the International Image Interoperability Framework API. Collaborative open source development would not only provide best of breed image viewing for Harvard users but would also be positioned to support the W3C Open Annotation framework for annotation.


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