Wellcome Trust

Transitioning Wellcome Digital Library to a new standards-based Cloud platform and viewer.

Our initial engagement with Wellcome Library project a new digital delivery system including the necessary infrastructure and viewing technology. Starting with the “Codebreakers: makers of modern genetics” pilot, the project’s aim was to digitise key holdings in this area, along with notable collections from other institutions on this theme, and make them available online in one digital platform.

As part of the project we open sourced the Player that we built to view the digitised material which has evolved into the Universal Viewer project working with the British Library to extend the functionality so that this single viewer can replace the 30+ disparate viewers that were in operation at the time. The Universal Viewer is now used by numerous institutions including clients such as the National Library of Wales. Princeton and Stanford.

The Universal Viewer displaying Crick's original sketches of the double helix.

We have recently taken the original Digital Delivery Platform and upgraded it to be International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) compliant and to work as a cloud service that any similar institution can sign up to and take advantage of. This platform was built from scratch based on lessons from building the original system, it is called the Digital Library Cloud Services (DLCS). It is designed to handle Wellcome’s current digiitisation program of 1m artifacts a month from it a growing collection of books, manuscripts, archives, films and pictures on medicine and the life sciences throughout history. The platform also offers advanced features including deep zoom, annotations, alto and search.

The new platform is enabling all sorts of interesting content discovery projects to be built swiftly with rich user experiences. One such project that we worked on recently is the Wellcome Collection Sleep Stories quilt which was part of our ‘States of Mind’ exhibition. The Sleep Stories quilt was made by visitors to the exhibition who shared and stitched their stories of what happens while they're asleep. This was then digitised and annotated for exploration through viewing kiosks and online.