The New York Public Library recently made 180 000 images from its collection available for download and use by anyone, entirely rights-free. In 2016, where libraries are perhaps seen by many people as somewhat redundant, this kind of thinking is so exciting.
If a library is a repository of human achievement (through literature and history, photography and cultural artefacts) how can it remain relevant these days? That is why this move from the NYPL is so groundbreaking. In fact, they’ve gone so far as requesting people to use these images and remix them or reimagine them in new ways. You can check out that initiative here. They are encouraging people to make games and other new media applications that can bring all of this history to life.
In fact, a simple online game has already been made, called Mansion Maniac that allows users to navigate through old house plans of mansions in New York from the early 1900s. What an incredible way to bring something that could be boring and somewhat stuffy (like a house plan) and make it interactive and interesting at the same time!
But how to catalogue and make sense of 180 000 photographs? The NYPL has a smart way of doing that too, where users can browse by colour, genre or date. So on top of all this, there is some exciting data-visualisation as well.
But enough of us gushing about the project, we suggest you take a look for yourself!
Check out the collection here