The British Library puts more than one million public domain images on Flickr


posted Monday, December 16, 2013 at 2:38 PM EDT


The British Library has taken an immense volume of digitized images, and released them into the wilds on Flickr for people to use, play with, remix, and just generally do whatever they want to. More than a million images from 17th, 18th and 19th century books have been released in an immense Flickr upload, and the British Library is also hoping that users might be able to help organize and explain them.

The books themselves were digitized by Microsoft as part of a project called 'Mechanical Curator', and each image is tagged with book title, page number, unique IDs, publication information, and even filing information for the publication itself. But as useful as that is, the British Library is also looking for people to help with providing context for the images. As the blogpost about the release says:

"We may know which book, volume and page an image was drawn from, but we know nothing about a given image...We plan to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray. Our intention is to use this data to train automated classifiers that will run against the whole of the content. The data from this will be as openly licensed as is sensible (given the nature of crowdsourcing) and the code, as always, will be under an open licence."

Even if you have no interest in helping organize and classify the images, this is an incredible resource of etchings, drawings, old advertisements, and yes, even some photographs, too. And these million+ images come from 65,000 books, just a fraction of what the British Library has on its shelves — so if the rest ever get digitized, there could be countless more images yet to come.

(via Metafilter)