As a plucky nonprofit, the UIP keeps an eye out for resources that allow us to marry words to striking images. The New York Public Library just added another treasure trove to pluck from, with 180,000-some public domain images now out there for unrestricted use.
That’s great enough. But the NYPL made the search enjoyable, too. Brian Foo of NYPL Labs created this mindblowing visual resource for browsing the collection. By moving your mouse, you can see thumbnail after thumbnail, with images grouped by century created, genre, collection, and color. A random look conducted just now yielded: a stereograph image of a Philadelphia asylum; a dramatic color illustration of the Iranian nobleman Gushtasb slaying a dragon; the plan of the town of Baltimore in 1792; cocktail lounge propaganda, featured above; and the cover of the sheet music to a smash ragtime hit from 1899.
While the Library made a lot of these pics available in the past, interested parties only had free access to low-resolution images. High-res copies required a processing fee. No more:
Now, in addition to the availability of high-res downloads, it’s simpler to identify which of the items in the library’s digital collections are in the public domain. The library also has made it easier for programmers to access and analyze those files in bulk.
“These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds,” the library says in a statement.