Stanford Library Staff participate in Spotlight event at Yale

August 20, 2016
Tom Cramer
Spotlights in the Centre Ceramique, Maastricht

On August 9-10, the Yale University Libraries and Yale Center for British Art hosted an event to showcase the open source software platform called Spotlight (  

Spotlight was originally developed by the Stanford University Libraries as a self-service tool that can be used by library curators to create engaging and feature-rich online exhibits to highlight and contextualize digital image collections.  It has recently gained considerable interest from other libraries, museums and archives facing a similar need to produce high quality online exhibitions of their digitized collections. You can see examples of digital exhibits created at Stanford with Spotlight at Spotlight is being used to provide access to collections as diverse as the papers of eminent computer scientist, Edward Feigenbaum, to the photographer and designer Herbert Matter,facsimiles of medieval manuscripts, and the civil rights photography of Bob Fitch.

The two-day Yale event was cleverly titled "Spotlight on Spotlight," and  was attended by seventy people in person and twenty via live stream from over thirteen institutions across North America. The first day featured speakers from Stanford University Libraries (Stu Snydman, Associate Director for Digital Strategy, Gary Geisler, User Experience Designer and Chris Beer, Software Engineer) and Princeton University Library (Trey Pendragon, Software Engineer), who have led the development of the tool. The Stanford team gave an introductory presentation followed by a live demo of how to build an exhibit.  This was followed by a presentation on how Princeton has adapted and adopted Spotlight in its digital library.  The second day consisted of a hands-on workshop for software engineers to learn how to get Spotlight running in their home environments.

The Yale event was designed to promote awareness of Spotlight among the growing number of libraries, archives and museums who are looking for efficient and cost-effective ways to enable curators, scholars and even students to build feature-rich websites highlighting their unique digital content.  Eric James, a software engineer at Yale University Library who organized the event, said “As a library we are very much invested in the Hydra stack.  Providing access and discovery services is fundamental to what we do as a university.  Spotlight seemed like a viable way to bring these interests together, and as demonstrated at the conference has great potential.”

The Yale event is a significant milestone in Spotlight’s development and adoption.  It has already been adopted by institutions such as Princeton, and the University of Victoria, and as evidenced by the 13 institutions who sent representatives to New Haven, is now poised for widespread uptake. The Stanford Libraries invests heavily in open source technology and communities as a key technology strategy.

Yale has published a concise blog post describing the event, and the Yale Center for British Art has posted a video of the event at


Tom Cramer

Tom Cramer

Associate University Librarian
Director, Digital Library Systems & Services
Chief Technology Strategist