Earlier this week the New York Public Library enhanced access to over 670,000 digitized files in its massive database of digital collections. This includes access to free books, paintings, newspaper clippings, digitized streaming video, prints, botanical illustrations, photographs, maps, manuscripts, sheet music, menus, hundreds of thousands of public domain images, and more. Some of the documents date back as far as the 11th century
Best of all, NYPL has created some really cool tools to search, access and utilize the collection.
- A Public Domain Visualization Browsing Tool – This allows users to explore the public domain collections at scale.
- The Green Book Trip Planner – Uses locations extracted from mid-20th century Green Book Motor Guides that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, and other destinations where Black travelers would be welcome.
- Mansion Builder – Is a game that allows players to explore floor plans of grand turn-of-the-century New York apartments.
- Then-And-Now Comparison of New York’s Fifth Avenue – Juxtaposes 1911 wide-angle photographs of Ney York City’s 5th Avenue with Google Street View
- Stereogranimator – Create and share 3D images from the Library’s stereograph collections.
All of the Public Domain items are “No permission required. No restrictions on use.” They digitized these items specifically so that people will reuse and remix for your personal projects. So much so that NYPL announced the NYPL Labs PAID Remix Residency for artists, information designers, and software developers that is designed to spur transformative and interesting new uses for their digital collections. If that isn’t enough NYPL is adding high-quality machine-readable metadata to the hundreds of thousands of assets and providing an API!
Well done, NYPL. Go forth and reuse!