ETHorama: the map-based digital information platform

Innovative access to digital information resources

In recent years, ETH-Bibliothek has digitised its physically available holdings extensively and rendered them accessible on various online platforms and via the Knowledge Portal. The idea of developing the online service ETHorama now consisted in creating another search and presentation possibility to put the digital copies generated by ETH-Bibliothek into new, innovative contexts.

ETHorama: novel access to documents

The result is a browsing and delivery platform that a broad user base can use to access selected historical and contemporary documents (images, texts, maps) via a map-based user Interface.


Figure1: Images from various source systems on the point of interest “Quaibrücke”

Unlike with similar platforms, ETHorama is not the primary distribution channel of a document collection. The service differs from other digital services on a number of key points:

  1. ETHorama is a platform where selected contents from different online ETH-Bibliothek services (E-Pics,,, E-Periodica and ETH E-Collection) can be located by interacting on a map.
  2. The platform offers alternative, map-based forms of access to the contents with theme collections (e.g. aircraft types, Switzerland from above: Swissair aerial photographs) and the historical journeys of famous people.
  3. Geotagged contents from different source systems are brought into context with each other for the first time In ETHorama.

Selection and indexing of the contents

The editorial contents for ETHorama are selected individually. Innovative for library work is the location-based indexing of magazine articles and old prints up to individual page Level.


Figure 2: Selection of the contents in the backend application

All contents in ETHorama are linked directly to the digital assets in the source systems, which enables users to access the contents directly via a source system. No double data storage of the digital assets is carried out. There is also linking between all ETHorama contents and the corresponding references on the Knowledge Portal, from which the metadata of the ETHorama contents stem (excl. geo-referencing).

Technical implementation and further development of ETHorama

The solution is implemented in the form of a backend server application, where the import and processing of the contents take place, as well as a browser-page rich internet application. Both components communicate via a restful API. Essentially, this also makes the data available for possible integration in other applications and systems.

A major goal for the refinement of the service is the integration of further source systems which, from a user’s perspective, promise an interesting addition to the existing contents. How the geo-referencing data might be channelled into the Knowledge Portal to make the context of the localisation accessible to an even greater user base is currently being verified.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License.

DOI Link: 10.16911/ethz-ib-2023-en

  1. Annette Guignard und Germano Giuliani
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