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Redesigning the University’s Digital Collections Infrastructure

The Access for All project seeks to improve and redesign the current Collections.Ed website for the University community

The University’s Digital Library Programme recently launched an Access for All project to improve the existing Collections.Ed infrastructure to serve a wide range of users enabling enhanced discovery, display, research, teaching, sharing and utilisation of the University’s diverse collections. Collections.Ed is the University of Edinburgh’s online catalogue for rare and unique collections ranging from archives and rare books to musical instruments, art and museum pieces.

Access for All covers 3 main projects of work: 

  • the creation of the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museum (GLAM) Data & API Service
  • the re-design of the front-end of Collections.Ed (new style guide has been approved as part of DLIB014)
  • Implementation of new Collections.Ed website​ front-end utilising the style guide and data populated through APIs.

The infrastructure will be updated to be API driven and modular, decoupling the front-end and various back-ends through the creation of the GLAM Data and API Service to sit between the two.

This specific project focuses on the design and implementation of the GLAM Data and API Service. The Service will take in data from all the Library and University Collections (L&UC) “golden copy” data sources to sort, unify and process it in various ways for presentation to users. Collating the data from multiple back-end systems into one location allows greater functionality including unified searching across all collections.

The modular design includes various internal data sources, allowing internal services to be added, removed and extended as needed to enable the required API calls to be satisfied. The scope of the project is to understand the current data and APIs available to facilitate the decoupling of front and back end, design API Framework and Standards, identify collections data requirements from stakeholders across L&UC and the wider academic community, define and build relevant infrastructure to support API development, develop, test and deploy APIs and manage support of APIs.

The benefits of the decoupling and building of the API service include removing the dependency on specific systems, utilising modern design and development practices, future-proofing the collections infrastructure with extensible and scalable framework and the ability to present data in multiple ways. Following this project effort will be focused on the implementation of the new Collections.Ed front-end, utilising APIs from API Service to populate the data and using the output of a DLIB014 for the design.