Friday, January 17, 2014

British Library Releases Over One Million Images into the Public Domain!

Image taken from "Das neunzehnte Jahrhundert in Deutschlands Entwicklung ... Herausgegeben von Paul Schlenther" (1899), available in the British Library's Flickr photostream.
Have a few minutes (or hours) to kill? The British Library can help! In December, the British Library announced the release of over one million images taken from the pages of 17th, 18th, and 19th century books into the public domain. The images, digitized by Microsoft and subsequently gifted to the British Library, span a variety of subjects. Read the official announcement here.

The images, which link back to the digitized books from which they originated, do not have many tags yet. While the book, volume, and page number associated with each image identify its location, no descriptive data is provided to indicate the subjects, colors, or themes. The British Library is planning the launch of a crowdsourcing application to obtain more descriptive information from the public; the data obtained will then be used for the training of automated classifiers.

Click here to see “Highlights from the Mechanical Curator,” a set of highlights that displays the wide range of subjects contained in the collection. In order to build and expand topic-specific sets, Flickr users are encouraged to add tags related to an image's subject matter. Twelve user-generated sets are currently viewable on Flickr and include categories such castles, science fiction, and maps.

As the images have been released into the public domain, they are freely available for anyone to use, adapt, or interpret. Some of my current favorites are below...what are yours?

Image taken from "Red Apple and Silver Bells. A book of verse for children ... Illustrated by A. B. Woodward" (1897), available in the British Library's Flickr photostream.

Image taken from "[The Fashionable Lover.] Miss Obre oder die gerettete Unschuld. Ein Lustspiel in fünf Aufzügen nach dem Englischen des Herrn Cumberland" (1774), available in the the British Library's Flickr photostream.

Image taken from "The Angel of the Revolution: a tale of the coming Terror. ... With illustrations by F. T. Janes" (1893), available in the British Library's Flickr photostream.

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