The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF – pronounced “triple-I-F”) has as one of its primary goals to provide scholars and researchers open access to the ever growing collection of digital image repositories around the world.
Why? For the most part, today's image repositories are like silos storing images as corn in the corn bin. The only way to get to an image is to visit the silo and learn how its controls work. No guarantee that the next silo will work the same. And if you want to compare images from different silos, good luck. You are going to need multiple browsers or do a whole lot of downloading.
But what if instead you could view all library and museum held digital images from a standard interface? And what if that interface could display images from multiple repositories together? By making image repositories IIIF compliant, you can do just that. IIIF allows queries to be made to an image repository for a specific image or portion of an image sized and rotated to order. The response to this query, in the format requested, is then returned. This allows a single interface or set of controls to work with any and all IIIF enabled image repository.
Two of my favorite examples of IIIF in use takes this functionality to the next level. Both examples not only pull images from a source not of its own, but from multiple sources combining the results.
The Digital Mushaf project (http://digitalmushaf.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/) virtually reconstructs fragments from the earliest Qurʾanic text. The fragments held by four different institutions are then placed in order for scholarly study.
Even cooler to me, is the Biblissima reconstituted manuscript demo (https://goo.gl/TymsAz ). This demo presents a manuscript whose illuminations had been cut out and sold a long time ago. Now, using material from two different sites, the book and its images (and the missing text from the back side of the images) are virtually united.
Both these examples take advantage of open access images made even more accessible by the holding institution's implementation of IIIF.
Find other cool demos and more information from this awesome IIIF site: https://github.com/IIIF/awesome-iiif.