A Slice of History

First opened to scholars in 1602, The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Together, the Bodleian Libraries hold over 13 million printed items, and since the 1990s the digitisation teams have been busy bringing the collections to life online.  

One key digital resource is the Picture Library, housing licensable imagery for creatives and researchers to browse for a range of commercial, retail and brand purposes.  

Capture and The Bodleian

In 2016, the Bodleian began using Capture’s media management and content licensing engine to manage their workflow. Capture’s technology solutions and professional services help brands manage, monetise, and maximise their imagery and footage, at each stage of the content lifecycle.  

In the years since, the Picture Library has seen various changes and improvements, but with new intentions for the resource, The Bodleian and Capture recently embarked on an upgrade project. A refreshed Picture Library launched in June 2022. 

New Website, New Approach

Speaking of what she calls the picture library “with a twist”, Elaine Anstee, Head of Imaging Services at The Bodleian Libraries, comments on their new content approach: 

“Our mission for the Picture Library is to bring out of the collections our popular images, but also new images, tied to historical anniversaries and topical themes. To keep it relevant, the Picture Library is therefore purposefully small (the twist), holding up to 2,000 images at a time, reviewed and updated monthly. To aide navigation further, these are organised by catalogues on the front page.” 

Easy To Navigate, Ready To License

Making use of Capture’s groups and subgroups features, the Bodleian team can segment content into curated galleries, categorising for upcoming anniversaries, topical subjects, and historical events. 

Rather than a repository of all digital imagery, the new site, through careful categorisation, is now a resource of focused, relevant, licensable content. 

With the content constantly refreshing, there is reason for users to visit the resource time and time again. 

Photo Bodleian Libraries

Going Further

To boost the content’s discoverability, the Bodleian have utilised Capture’s professional keywording services. Adding around 50 terms per asset, the Capture Keywording team tags each asset with a combination of general date terms, identification terms, and descriptions of the visual content. Applying historically accurate and detailed metadata facilitates accurate categorisation and surfaces content in relevant user search results. 

Emma Butterfield – Capture’s Account Manager for the Bodleian Libraries – has been working closely with Bodleian staff throughout the launch process and in the months after to ensure continuous improvement. After her most recent trip to see the team, she noted: 

“When I visited the studio, I was astounded by the wealth of the collection, but more so the team’s enthusiasm to tease out the hidden gems. The new approach, inspiring users, will make the Bodleian Image site a place to revisit over and over for creative thinkers and makers.” 

Photo Bodleian Libraries, John Johnson Collection : Music Titles 3 (42), recto

Find out More

If you haven’t already, you can check out the Bodleian Picture Library here to get inspired. 

For research enquiries or help to find the right picture for your project, you can reach out to the Bodleian Library team directly.  

Header Image: Photo Bodleian Libraries, Alvis 12/60 Sports Saloon. The car which passes you.

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