IIIF in Spotlight FAQs

General information

1. What is a IIIF manifest URL?

A IIIF manifest URL is a specially formatted link that when invoked, allows for the display of that resource in any IIIF-enabled viewing platform, such as Spotlight at Stanford for example.

2. How do I determine if an item I want to add to my exhibit is IIIF-enabled?

Please refer to this IIIF guide. Each institution listed has provided a screenshot depicting how to locate the IIIF manifest URL for the items they host.

3. Are there lists of IIIF-enabled resources available, like a union catalog or other consolidated resource?

Here is a list of links from the IIIF community to help you discover IIIF resources that have been shared, including demonstrations of IIIF discovery and useful discovery tools.

Adding IIIF content to an exhibit

4. I want to plan an exhibit with IIIF content. Where should I begin?

You're off to a good start reading through these FAQs! Before planning an exhibit that relies upon IIIF content, ask us to create a test exhibit for you (exhibits-feedback@lists.stanford.edu). This way, you can make sure the host institution's content configurations will work for you within the Spotlight context.

5. OK, now I have a IIIF manifest URL. How do I add it to my Spotlight exhibit?

Go to Dashboard > Curation > Add items > Select the "IIIF URL" tab > Enter your IIIF manifest URL in the space provided > Click "Add IIIF items." After a few seconds and possibly up to a minute, the item you added should appear in your exhibit. Search for it by entering the title in the search box for the exhibit.

6. I have a long list of IIIF manifest URLs I want to add to my Spotlight exhibit. Is there a way to bulk upload the URLs?

The ability to bulk upload a list of IIIF manifest URLs is on the Spotlight development wish list. At this time, URLs must be added individually.

7. Can I add a IIIF collection manifest to my Spotlight exhibit, so a large number of items can be added to my exhibit by virtue of a single URL?

Yes, If you have the IIIF collection manifest URL, please follow the instructions in FAQ #4 above. Once you add the collection URL, all items belonging to that collection will be added to your exhibit.

8. How do I obtain a IIIF collection manifest for a group of items, to expedite adding a large number of items to my Spotlight exhibit?

  • Hopefully, you are working with staff at the the host institution for the digital collection(s) you'd like to add to your exhibit. They may be able to provide a collection manifest for you, or create one for your use.
  • Creating a collection manifest requires basic scripting skills. Some curatorial staff at SUL have done this and might be able to assist. Please reach out to the Spotlight service team (exhibits-feedback@lists.stanford.edu); we may be able to point you to local resources to provide instructions.

9. Will the IIIF content I add to my exhibit be discoverable?

  • All of the descriptive metadata supplied by the institution hosting the IIIF manifest is indexed into your Spotlight exhibit, and it is discoverable (along with each item) by conducting a non-fielded or "simple" search in the exhibit search box.
  • However, at this time IIIF content in exhibits will not display in search facets, as Spotlight is not configured for this due to the inherent complexities of mapping heterogeneous metadata from different institutions.


10. Oops, I added a IIIF manifest URL to my Spotlight exhibit, and I changed my mind. How do I remove it from my exhibit?

Items can't be removed from an exhibit after they are added. However, items can be marked as private, which will hide them from view when your exhibit is published. To mark a single item as private:

  • Navigate to the item in your exhibit
  • Click on "Edit" in the upper right-hand corner
  • Uncheck the box labeled "Public"
  • Save changes
  • To mark multiple items as private at the same time, use the bulk actions or bulk updates feature

11. I tried to upload a IIIF manifest URL to my Spotlight exhibit, but I don't see it after searching my exhibit. What's the problem?

  • There could be a variety of reasons, including the fact that the host institution may not have configured the manifest URL correctly, or their IIIF configuration could prohibit sharing without express permission. Please reach out to the Spotlight service team and let us know, as we may be able to help you troubleshoot the issue: exhibits-feedback@lists.stanford.edu. We are also keeping a log of such issues for further research and troubleshooting.
  • Join the IIIF slack workspace by filling out this form. Join the #beginners channel and connect with others who are also trying to use IIIF in their local/institutional environments. You may gain insights or obtain answers to your newbie IIIF questions here.
  • IIIF APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) do evolve over time, and specifications change. This can render a host institution's IIIF manifests incompatible with selected platforms or display modalities.

12. I added a IIIF manifest URL to my Spotlight exhibit, but it doesn't display a thumbnail in list, gallery or masonry view. Can this be fixed?

Whether or not thumbnails display is determined by each host institution. Thumbnails will appear in exhibits if the host institution has made thumbnails available via their IIIF manifests.