Thursday, January 14, 2016

Great links: New York Public Library's public domain archives

Gîv, dressed in a tiger-skin coat and helmet, leads the young Kay Khusrau and his mother Farangîs across the Oxus. [cropped portion of artwork from 1026]

The New York Public Library, among the coolest spots in America, is also among the coolest spots on The Cloud. The library is promoting that is has more than 180,000 public domain images in its digital archives and that "everyone has the freedom to enjoy and reuse these materials in almost limitless ways. ... No permission required. No restrictions on use."

What a wonderful time to be alive and be an ephemeraologist!

The thousands and thousands of images date back to the 11th century and include book covers and interior pages, illustrations, photographs, artwork, sheet music, maps, stereographic cards, menus and much more. It's a treasure chest for historians, artists and ... pretty much everyone.

But wait, there's more!

New York Public Library is also offering what will certainly turn into someone's Dream Job — the NYPL Labs Remix Residency.

In their words:
"NYPL Labs is pleased to announce our first Remix Residency, designed to spur transformative, interesting, beautiful new uses of our digital collections. We have been digitizing our collections for many years, but digitization is just the start—the real magic happens when these collections make their way into the hands of scholars, educators, technologists, and creators of all types. Amazing things can happen! Anything can happen! ... We are pleased to open this call for proposals, asking what beautiful, inspiring, and engaging things can be made from our public domain collections. We are seeking submissions for projects that provide new ways of looking at or presenting public domain materials — or allow access to the information or beauty currently locked within the static images we’ve digitized. Submissions may include: Mappings, Visualizations, Generative Art, Games, Bots, Interactives."
Submissions are due by Feb. 19. See all the details here.

Here are a few more groovy images I cherry-picked from the NYPL's Public Domain Collections, but the true fun is diving in there and surfing through everything yourself. Enjoy!

Pennsylvania Railroad dinner menu [December 1917]

Abandoned houses, Dobra, West Virginia [1935]

The Negro Travelers' Green Book [Fall 1956]
For more on these travel guides, see this November story by WBUR.

Chart showing the solar system with earth at the center. It is surrounded by four grotesques, on blue, red, green and gold field. [1260, by Johannes de Sacrobosco]

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