11 September 2023
Join the British Library's Universal Viewer Product Team
The British Library has been a leading contributor to IIIF, the International Image Interoperability Framework, and the Universal Viewer for many years. We're about to take the next step in this work - and you can join us!
In this post, Dr Mia Ridge, product owner for the Universal Viewer (UV) 2015-18, and Dr Rossitza Atanassova, UV business owner 2019-2023, share some background information on how new posts advertised for a UV product team will help shape the future of the Viewer at the Library and contribute to international work on the UV, IIIF standards and activities.
The creation of a Universal Viewer product team is part of wider infrastructure changes at the British Library, and marks a shift from contributing via specific UV development projects to thinking of the Viewer as a product. We'll continue to work with the Open Collective while focusing on Library-specific issues to support other activities across the organisation.
Staff across the Library have contributed to the development of the Universal Viewer, including curators, digitisation teams and technology staff. Staff engage through bespoke training delivered by the IIIF Consortium, participation at IIIF workshops and conferences and experimentation with new tools, such as the digital storytelling tool Exhibit, to engage wide audiences. Other Library work with IIIF includes a collaboration with Zooniverse to enable items to be imported to Zooniverse via IIIF manifests, making crowdsourcing more accessible to organisations with IIIF items. Most recently with funding from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation we updated the UV to play audio from the British Library sound collections.
Over half a million items from the British Library's collections are already available via the Universal Viewer, and that number grows all the time. Work on the UV has already let us retire around 35 other image viewers, a significant reduction in maintenance overheads and creating a more consistent experience for our readers.
However, there's a lot more to do! User expectations change as people use other document and media viewers, whether that's other IIIF tools like Mirador or the latest commercial streaming video platforms. We also need to work on some technical debt, ensure accessibility standards are met, improve infrastructure, and consolidate services for the benefits to users. Future challenges include enhancing UV capabilities to display annotations, formats such as newspapers, and complex objects such as 3D.
If you'd like to work in collaboration with an international open source community on a viewer that will reach millions of users around the world, one of these jobs may be for you!
Product Owner (job reference R00000196)
Ensure the strategic vision, development, and success of the project. Your primary goal will be to understand user needs, prioritise features and enhancements, and collaborate with the development team and community to deliver a high-quality open source product.
Research Software Engineer (2 posts) (job reference R00000197)
Help identify requirements, and design and implement online interfaces to showcase our collections, help answer research questions, and support application of novel methods across team activities.
Senior Test Engineer (job reference R00000198)
Help devise requirements, develop high quality test cases, and support application of novel methods across team activities