For the first time, the New York Public Library has made morethan 180,000 high-resolution historical images available to view and download on its digital archive — completely open to the public, and even more important for some, free.

Made possible by NYPL Labs, an "interdisciplinary team" devoted to reinvigorating and disseminating the NYPL's many informational resources and catalogs via the Internet, the collection includes a diverse range of materials, including everything from lithographs to sheet music to the photographs of famous photographers like Lewis Hines and Walker Evans. 

Previously, the materials in the NYPL's digital collection were technically available for the public to peruse, but with a literal price. Before the archives were uploaded onto the library's site, users could only be granted access to certain generally restricted items and high-resolution images by making a request, paying a processing fee, or both.

The library's new open policy concerning the archive is part of an attempt to democratize its assets for all who want to learn.  Users can visit the NYPL Digital Collections launch page to check out the public domain items digitized from The New York Public Library's collections.

"These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds," the library's blog states on its website page for the online catalog. "All subsequently digitized public domain collections will be made available in the same way, joining a growing repository of open materials."

NYPL Labs is also offering a "remix residency," which has the recipient of the fellowship's project come up with "new ways of looking at or presenting public domain collections materials — or allow access to the information or beauty currently locked within the static images we've digitized." Examples include "bonus" browsing tools and resources, like a "mansion builder" that lets users explore the floorplans of the houses of the New York elite at the turn of the century.

Via: NPR

Source: New York Public Library

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