How to update an online collection? The case study of CRAI Reserve Library (University of Barcelona)

The book collection of CRAI’s Reserve Library of the University of Barcelona is one of the most important collections of antiquarian books in the country. Currently, it holds more than 2,200 manuscripts (10th-19th centuries), around 70,000 editions from the 15th centruy to 1820, and a remarkable group of engravings and parchments.

On the one hand, this documentary collection, reflects the period of manual printing in Europe extensively and, on the other hand, it provides valuable information on its ownership, reading and usage, specifically through the testimonies of printers’ devices and former owners.

How does the renewal of their data bases work? What are the improvements for the user? Besides, what is the role of Coeli’s technology? In this post, we will explain the development of this case study.

In context, what are the needs?

Initially, there was a static portal designed only for researchers and professionals on the subject. With the aim to obtain a better performance of the two resources, as well as reaching a more general public, there was a need to update the vision of the portal. For this reason, the CRAI Reserve Library was looking for a flexible solution capable of processing the data in an agile way. Dinamically, this would lead to an overall enrichment and efficiency of the search.

Development: the characteristics of Coeli

After more than twenty years on University of Barcelona’s own platform, the data have been synchronised directly with Coeli Sync. Once inside this interoperable tool, through its API Rest, the information is synchronised and ready to be published online.

Coeli Platform prepares a new version of the database, with a more efficient and flexible approach, a greater online presence and and presentation where images become the protagonists”

The mapping of these two unique databases, now in a single portal, has been a constant task of revision and adjustment. The data are extracted in MARC21 and come automatic transformations are applied once they are uploaded to Coeli. For example, within Coeli, we have linked vocabularies and geographical locations with UB’s Thesaurus in order to obtain the translation of the terms. Semi-automatically, the geographical coordinates have been entered to paint data on the map.

Throughout the process, the revision work carried out by CRAI’s librarias has been extremely important, as well as digitalising higher-quality images.

Printers’ devices and former owners

Thenew portal is structured in two areas: printers’ devices / former owners. It is available in Catalan, Spanish and English. The improvement of usability has been thanks to the combination of Coeli’s data management and the art direction of the firm Edittio. If you want to see the navigation, click on the following image.

Coeli’s technology has allowed us to enhance our visibility online as well as optimising to the maximum its exploitation and performance” (Neus Verger, CRAI Reserve Library)

What are the improvements?
  • Design and usability. The portal presents a new design, along with brand new browsing and filtering possibilities. The key point is to provide a comfortable, agile and attractive experience.
  • Filters. Originally, the collection was based on a limited use of filters. Nowadays, you can apply multiple filters (place, currency, gender, occupation, etc). The wide range of possibilities open up in the face of users.
  • 3 display modes. Moreover, there are three different environments incorporated: (i) images, (ii) list of printers, (iii) map. Globally, all of them have the possibility of delimiting the search with different facets, chronologically and geographically.


Overall, the need to approach heritage through digital tools that take into account the user experience is becoming more and more apparent. Therefore, the publication of online collection requires a good management during the whole process: from the data processing to the searching for a certain piece For this reason, we base our work on the philosophy “Create once, publish everywhere”.

Would you like to know more about our documental platform? Take a look at Coeli’s potential through our use cases or contact us and we will be in touch soon.