Initiatives in Digital Preservation

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NEW INCOne evening this past May, ARLIS/NA New York and METRO members met at Rhizome to learn about its digital preservation initiatives.  Rhizome is an affiliate in residence at the New Museum and an anchor tenant of NEW INC, New Museum’s arts and technology incubator.  Rhizome was founded in 1996 and is a leading international organization dedicated to the creation, presentation, and preservation of new media art.  Central to its digital preservation program is the creation of free, open-source tools to preserve legacy materials and the dynamic web.

Rhizome’s executive director Zachary Kaplan welcomed the group and made opening remarks before passing the mic to artistic director Michael Connor.  In his presentation, Connor introduced the group to a number of tools developed to maintain Rhizome’s digital collections platform ArtBase.  Tools discussed included: Emulation as a Service, a cloud-based emulation framework; oldweb.today, a tool connecting legacy browsers to web archives; and webrecorder.io, a platform for dynamic web archiving.

Connor illustrated why emulation tools are necessary to digital preservation by showing examples of art Rhizome presents.  “Bomb Iraq,” a work Corey Arcangel built using Macintosh TV—a product Apple produced briefly in the early 1990s—demonstrated how the Emulation as a Service tool allows viewers to interact both with the work and aspects of the hard drive on which it was built.  Connor presented a work Theresa Duncan originally created as an interactive CD-ROM narrated by David Sedaris, which Rhizome has made fully accessible online.

Connor demonstrated the value of oldweb.today using Alexei Shulgin’s Form Art Competition.  The Form website is still accessible via modern web browsers.  However, when viewing the site through oldweb.today, users can see how the project originally appeared on Netscape 3.0 in 1997.  Created by the Jodi collective using Google Earth, Geo Goo, shows how artists are using commercial applications as a medium and illustrates the importance of preserving the original software environment in order to fully access and comprehend new media art.

Perhaps the most exciting new tool Conner presented was webrecorder.io, a free platform for hi-fidelity, symmetric web archiving.  The tool is intended to make web archiving accessible to anyone by providing a secure and easy to use archive-as-you-browse interface.  Eventually, webrecorder.io will allow individuals and organizations to easily build an archive of web content pertinent to their collections.  In the meantime, users are invited to test the platform in its beta version, which can be found at https://webrecorder.io

Indeed, these types of archival tools are critical to Rhizome’s core mission.  Nevertheless, even those who deal primarily with physical collections should be grateful to tech savvy Rhizome for developing these digital preservation tools and making them openly accessible to all.

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Extra Art: Artists’ Ephemera in the Library

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Matchbook by Barbara Kruger

A matchbook by Barbara Kruger

In September 2014 I began a two-semester long acquisitions internship at the Museum of Modern Art Library. During this time I was fortunate to have the opportunity to catalog a recently acquired a collection of artists’ generated ephemera featured in the 2001 exhibition, and corresponding exhibition catalog, Extra Art: A Survey of Artists’ Ephemera, 1960 – 1999. The scope of the collection covers a broad span of art movements including Fluxus, Arte Povera, conceptual art, visual poetry, minimalism, pop art, and more, with the physical contents being similarly widely varied. Steven Leiber, scholar and curator of the collection, applied the term “extra art” to these materials in order to differentiate them from traditional art ephemera and to position artist created ephemera as a genre in its own right. These are materials that are integral to artistic practice; they are relics of performances and installations, or artworks in and of themselves. As such, the items in this collection exist in the space between art and ephemera and are an invaluable resource for art researchers.

While fluctuating in definition, the term ephemera is generally defined as “printed matter of passing interest” or “a short-lived thing” (American Heritage Dictionary). However, it was Clive Phillpot’s analogy, which compares art ephemera to the mayfly that caught my attention. Phillpot explains that the mayfly is of the insect order Ephemeroptera, a term with its root in the Greek ephemeros, “lasting only for a day.” The mayfly, he continues, can “emerge as an adult on May 1st and be history by May 2nd,” but it continues to play a role in the ecosystem after it ceases to exist (1995, p 1). Similarly, art ephemera, which typically consist of exhibition and event related materials, serve a distinct purpose for a brief period of time, after which they become historical records. Ephemera document transience and express a timeless quality by being both of their time and in the present.

In the Extra Art exhibition catalog, Leiber provides specific criteria for determining what constitutes artists’ ephemera and how it can be distinguished from traditional art ephemera. His criteria are:

  1. All materials are conceived and/or created by artists specifically for the purpose of being reproduced.
  2. All materials are distributed for free or very inexpensively.
  3. All materials have a supplemental relationship to art and perform a double function: a) they are secondary expressions of or about art, finding distribution in contexts in which these expressions are useful or instrumental for a short, limited time, and b) although these secondary expressions sometimes function in an external relationship to art, they also function, to varying degrees, as integral components of art or as art itself.

As noted, these materials are considered integral elements of art; they may be documentation that records work, fragments, or evidence of work – they are an archive of the ephemeral. We can see how this is manifest by examining a few pieces from the Extra Art Collection. In the poster-sized exhibition announcements by Daniel Buren, which have broad stripes of color printed on one side and gallery information printed on the other. These posters were also used to construct the exhibition itself, by being attached end to end to the inside and outside walls of the gallery, so that the holder of the invitation can be seen as an extension of the exhibition. Dan Graham frequently used magazines as an exhibition venue. For example, his piece Figurative, which he published in an advertising section in the March 1968, issue of Harper’s Bazaar, so that the monthly publication operated as the formal expression of the work. And Robert Barry, who issued exhibition announcements for a number of shows that read, “For the exhibition the gallery will be closed,” making the announcement the only evidence of the show.

The Extra Art Collection will be particularly relevant to researchers interested in the genre of artists’ publication and those studying the ways artists used commercial printing techniques in order to experiment and disseminate work. When Phillpot was appointed Library Director in 1977, he set the parameters for the creation of an artists’ book collection with the intent to “acquire and preserve the small inexpensive books that artists began making and distributing in the 1960’s” (Ekdahl, 1999). A characteristic of both artists’ books and artists’ ephemera is a democratic impulse. Ephemera created by artists were often intended as a way to reach beyond, or as an alternative to, traditional gallery and museum structures in an attempt to decentralize the art system. The Extra Art Collection is well situated between the Library’s artist files and its artists’ books collection in its nature, scope, and content.

In her essay “Art for the Occasion,” written for the Extra Art exhibition catalog, Anne Moeglin-Delcroix describes artists’ ephemera as “intrinsically provocative” because the durational aspect of these materials places the viewer in “a relation to a work that is no longer a contemplation but reading” (2001, p 19). This turn of words illustrates that it is all the more apt for these items to have found a home in the Library, where they are available to be seen, touched, and read.

A selection of images of highlights from the collection can be found on the MoMA Library tumblr.

References:

American Heritage Dictionary. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?id=E5176500

Ekdahl, J. (1999). Artists’ Books and Beyond: The library of the Museum of Modern Art as a curatorial and research resource. INSPEL, 33(4), pp. 241-248.

Leiber, S., Perez, P., & California College of Arts and Crafts. (2001). Extra Art: A survey of artists’ ephemera, 1960-1999. Santa Monica: Smart Art Press.

Phillpot, C. (1995). Flies in the files: ephemera in the art library. Art Documentation: Bulletin Of The Art Libraries Society Of North America, 1(4), pp.13-14.

The Library of Things

The Internet of Things poses a future where the types of intelligence now stored in our computers and hand-held devices will be networked amongst objects; where the things of our daily lives communicate with one another with little to no human intervention. We can readily see the benefits of this type of programmable world, from being able to adjust the lighting and temperature of a home remotely; to texts sent automatically upon one’s arrival to, or departure from, a location; to having coffee prepared to order as a network senses the customer’s approach; to larger purposes, including greater automation in factory production and more efficient and flexible traffic engineering. Criticisms of this type of expansive object to object networking have primarily been based around privacy and security issues, but are there other risks? What do we loose when we automate the small quotidian interactions such as ordering a coffee, or making the effort to send a personal text–a form of communication already considered to be impersonal? Do we really need to have so much automation over every aspect of our daily life?

Directly interacting with our environment helps us to stay connected with it, it is a reminder of our impact on, and relationship to, the world. To go for a run outside is a distinctly different experience from running on a treadmill in the gym, both physically and mentally; composting food scraps rather than just throwing them in the trash makes us aware how much we consume and how much we waste, as well as of the potential usefulness of what was once considered just trash; and even the briefest interaction between people has been found to have positive impact.

Connecting information to things clearly has use and production value, but connecting people with things, and other people, is also of value. Over the past year I’ve come across several reports about the things libraries loan. Things like fishing poles at the Honeoye Public Library located in the Finger Lakes region in New York; telescopes at the Ann Arbor District Library; household tools at the Grosse Point Public Library; and American Girl Dolls at the Ottendorfer Branch of the New York Public Library.

In addition to things, many libraries are “loaning” animals and people. Students at Yale University can check out a therapy dog for a circulation period of 30 minutes to help alleviate personal and academic stresses. “Human Library”programs allow patrons to have one on one conversation with people who have unique life experiences and/or specialized skills. Libraries that lend “Human Books” work to introduce patrons to alternative perspectives and knowledge in an effort to increase understanding.  And libraries have long served as venues for education and outreach programming, connecting patrons with services as wide-ranging as employment counseling, to fitness and crafts classes, to hog butchering demonstrations.

We know that providing computers and Internet access is an invaluable service provided by public libraries, and that libraries are serving more and more often as hubs for tech education and innovation. But budgetary cutbacks and difficulties in creating viable arrangements with publishers for acquiring and lending eBooks and journals can impede a library’s ability to keep up with rapid advancements in technology and its related equipment. As Libraries struggle to find and maintain their place in an increasingly hi-tech digital world, programs outside of the realm of technology can offer innovative ways to provide valuable services to, and connection with, patrons. Lending out “things” and creating community focused programming are ways to maintain relevance and serve the community while operating with a restricted budget.

And we cannot underestimate the value of offering services that connect people with things, and people with people. The Pew Internet & American Life Project report “From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers: A typology of public library engagement in America” from March 13, 2014, found that persons who are less engaged with their public library are often less engaged with their community generally. The report describes this group of people as having “lower levels of technology use, fewer ties to their neighbors, lower feelings of personal efficacy, and less engagement with other cultural activities.” This clearly identifies a group of people who could be well served by a library that offers unique services and programming such as the loaning of tools, service dogs, and human books, which are potential ways to encourage isolated people to engage with their community.

The primary mission of a library is to offer access to information, and we are well aware that information doesn’t come only in the form of electronic and/or printed words. Libraries additionally have a mission to connect patrons with their community. By providing access to things and to networks of people, libraries are offering access to knowledge and experience. Libraries serve a vital role within their communities and must seek to keep their community “connected” in the broadest possible sense.

Happy Earth Day!

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Belchatow Power Plant and Coal MineToday is Earth Day, and as we are regularly inundated with news of Earth’s impending doom – such as the article on The Huffington Post today that states that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been consistently above 400 parts per million for the last month – I am finding it difficult to be inspired.  But librarians and information professionals can, at the very least, work to expand awareness of climate change, and on more than just one day out of every year.

Seed libraries, library greenhouses, and even library apiaries, are all great ideas for ways to engage patrons in activities and discussions about the environment.  What more can we do?  NASA is hoping to raise awareness through its Earth Day Global Selfie event; Global Soundscapes is putting out a call for citizen scientists to record the sounds of the world around them.  Libraries can similarly engage patrons through social media and crowdsourcing efforts calling for users to participate with their local environment.  Libraries could hold workshops using tools available from NASA and climate change groups like 350.org.  Libraries can host electronic recycling and repair events and workshops, and facilitate discussions about waste and re-use.

Finally, libraries could partner with, and utilize the resources of, local and national parks.  Here in New York, Freshkills Park is being built on the site of what was the largest landfill in the world which, when complete, will be the largest park in New York City.  Parts of Freshkills Park are accessible by tour now, and it truly looks inspiring.

Neogeography and its Discontents

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Map of CrimeaListening to the March 28th episode of WNYC’s On the Media (OTM) led me to reflect upon my earlier post about the crowd sourced mapping system OpenStreetMap (OSM). Two interrelated segments on OTM discussed the political aspects of mapmaking, the risks of crowdsourcing geospatial information, and what maps mean to us in the digital age.

Mapping is always political. Mapping is never objective.

In the first segment “A Crisis of Cartographic Proportions,” Michael Blanding discusses the recent representation of Crimea on online maps, and the political nature of mapmaking generally. According to Blanding, even the most trusted sites wavered when determining how to identify Crimea during the current crisis.  Wikipedia assigned Crimea to Russia and then reverted back to Ukraine, until finally it settled upon assigning it a color label identifying it as a “disputed territory.” Rand McNally stated that it would take direction from the U.S. State Department in determining how it would identify Crimea. The Russian government is actively lobbying Google to adjust its mapping of Crimea, which continues to include the region as part of Ukraine. National Geographic has received criticism for asserting it would not alter Crimea’s country assignment, claiming the decision reflected its apolitical position.  But is this apolitical? In each instance, mapmakers have had to make a subjective decision. Even choosing to identify or not identify an area as disputed has political implications.

The problem of how to map disputed regions, or “grey areas” or “areas of special status,” has been an issue throughout the history of cartography, but now, when we automatically turn to online maps when seeking to better understand global events, the issue is perhaps more immediately visible. We have become hyperaware of the shortcomings of systems we had come to count on for providing certainty and unquestionable information.

What purpose do we expect our maps to serve?

In the second segment, “The World According to Google Maps,” John Gravois speaks about the state of Google maps and how we think about maps more generally. Google’s Map Maker tool and the Community layer of Google Earth are the crowd-sourced elements of Google Maps. Gravois tells the story of a Palestinian who, using Community layer, tagged all of the Palestinian villages destroyed during the creation of the state of Isreal, an act that was seen as slanderous by some Israelis. In another instance cited in the segment, Google Maps decided to identify the body of water between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula as both the Arabian Gulf and the Persian Gulf, which caused an outcry from many in Iran. Google’s position has been that its naming decisions regarding bodies of water are guided by the naming preferred by people directly adjacent to the body. Google appears to work under the assumption that the more information the better. It follows not the standards of science, but the standards revealed by what people say. In doing so, Google declares its position of neutrality based upon its allowance for its users to inform map content.

But if maps contain as much information as possible, then what are maps today? Mapmaking was originally an idea of indexing and measuring everything in accordance with rules and structure. It is more apparent today that maps hold opinion as well as information and no longer can claim to provide a single authoritative view of the world. More frequently, maps serve a social function. The use of geographical techniques and tools for personal and community activities, or neogeography, is increasingly applied to specialized topics, such as the best coffee shops close to subway stations, rat populations, crime hotspots, among many others.

After listening to the OTM episode, I returned to OSM to see how it was addressing the crisis in Crimea, if at all. OSM has declared a moratorium on making adjustments to administrative borders and name tags in the region. A statement on the website declares that “every edit altering name tags or administrative borders will be treated as provoking an edit war and reverted, users who do that repeatedly will be banned,” and encourages OSM users to continue to map “non-political” things such as buildings and land uses. But, in a situation such as that in Crimea, is there anything that can truly be considered non-political?

Gathering, categorizing, and disseminating information, are the crux of a librarians job, and we are increasingly able to bring our community of users into the process in order to better serve them. However, as we strive to be inclusive and democratic, questions andrisks arise. How do we handle sensitive information? When engaging in crowd sourcing, because it can sometimes prove inflammatory as opposing viewpoints are aired, do we filter and police community input?

The benefits of crowdsourcing are evident. Ultimately, the debates ignited by the inherent tensions are allowing us to see a more diverse range of viewpoints. These viewpoints may provoke anger at times, but we need to continue to work to encourage the dialogue.

The Conspicuous Consumption of Tech Giants

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Francisco de Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son (1819-1823)In his article “Cheap Words” in the Feb 17th issue of The New Yorker, George Packer asks pointedly, “And so the big question is not just whether Amazon is bad for the book store industry; it’s whether Amazon is bad for books.”  While it may not be news that Amazon poses a real threat to the future of physical books, bookstores, publishers, and libraries, Packer describes this threat in piercing detail and discusses the very real repercussions of the type of technological empire Amazon is building.

According to Packer, publishers were initially eager to collaborate with Amazon in its early years, even relying on the company as an information resource over the standard Books-in-Print.  Publishers were willing to sell titles to Amazon at unusually low rates, working on the assumption that Amazon would eventually raise its prices in order to become more profitable.  At the time, the publishing industry was floundering and Amazon provided jobs to publishing workers it hired to review titles and edit online content.  However, Packer reports, it soon became apparent to publishers that Amazon considered books to be pure product only–and that Amazon hired publishing workers for the public relations purpose of creating the appearance that the company truly cared about books and their content.  Moreover, he argues, Amazon’s book sales had been simply a tool for gathering customer data in order to expand its business.

Today, even though publishers understand Amazon’s true position as an electronic big-box retailer akin to Walmart, their reliance upon Amazon is growing.  In addition to continuing to sell to Amazon at unsustainable discounts, in order to have their titles available on its site, publishers must agree to Amazon’s non-negotiable sales terms.  Once its books are listed on Amazon, publishers often pay promotional fees to ensure that their books are placed more prominently on the site.  While small publishers are struggling to survive, large publishers are being forced to become larger.  As the Penguin Random House merger suggests, the publishing industry has more and more become the big fighting the bigger.  According to Packer, this has served to push “American culture under the control of ever fewer and more powerful corporations.”  The result is that publishers are less able and/or willing to take risks in deciding which books they will publish.  While Amazon purports to provide a more democratic system by removing the gatekeepers of editors and critics from its bookselling market, its position in the wider market effectively manipulates the publishing industry towards its interests.

While monopoly over cultural content creation and Amazon’s impact upon book publishing is of concern, perhaps even more distressing is that Amazon is rapidly killing jobs.  Not only are the jobs it does provide low-paying, but Packer cites a study based upon U.S. Census data showing that brick-and-mortar stores (of all types) employ 47 people for every 10 million dollars in revenue earned.  Amazon employs only 14.  Former United States Secretary of Labor Robert Reich makes a similar argument in his Guernica article, “Inequality Productivity and WhatsApp” regarding the recent acquisition of WhatsApp by FaceBook.  According to Reich, a tremendous amount of money is being earned by a very few, while jobs are rapidly disappearing at the hands of the tech industry, and “…the combination of digital technologies with huge network effects is pushing the ratio of employees to customers to new lows (WhatsApp’s 55 employees are all its 450 million customers need).”  Likewise, in his article “Is Google Making the Digital Divide Worse?” in the Feb 20th issue of Newsweek, Michael Brick argues that Google’s efforts to broaden internet access through its Google Fiber project, will actually have the effect of expanding the digital divide.  Like Amazon, Google claims it will be providing egalitarian access to the internet but, also like Amazon, it will require customers to pay for access, thereby leaving those with limited resources unconnected.  These articles correctly raise the concern that the seemingly beneficial work of tech giants, in reality, expands inequality, and they call into question the real costs associated with the benefits and conveniences that big tech services may provide to some.

The hazards of relying upon large corporations for access to information and culture are great.  For many, ease of access to information has never been greater.  Yet there is compelling evidence that that the number of people unable to access information electronically is increasing due to ever-growing economic inequality and as a direct result of the digital divide.  How do we proceed as information workers when the very advances in technology with great potential to expand access to information instead serve to expand the inequality gap rather than reduce it?  Information workers must utilize and stay current with technological developments in order to meet the needs of their patrons, but they must be ever vigilant in negotiating the economic and technological divide.  It is critical that libraries, which do not stand to profit in the way tech companies do, make a concerted effort to work towards diminishing this gap.

Crowdsourced OpenStreetMap Succeeds Where Google Maps Fails

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Sochi Map ComparisonIn his recent article in Wired, Greg Miller compares the crowdsourced OpenStreetMap (OSM) with GoogleMaps, and finds OSM to be superior in providing detailed maps of the game sites at the Sochi Olympics.  In the article, Miller directs readers to the Map Compare Tool, which allows users to easily compare up to eight mapping tools at once and that he used in determining OSM’s scope of detail.

While OSM currently lacks many features available through GoogleMaps, its advantages include being community driven—with currently 1.5 million local users creating map data based upon direct knowledge of an area—and that it is open data.  OSM provides evidence of a successful and expanding crowdsourcing effort and is a testament to the potential power of crowdsourcing and the importance of open data.  As libraries, museums, and archives seek new ways of involving patrons in the work of gathering and applying metadata to objects in their collections, they may want to look to OSM for inspiration.  By harnessing metadata from a wide community of users and making this metadata linked open data, new connections can be discovered and cultural heritage collections can be better understood, strengthening their utility.

Pew Report Finds That People Still Value Books (and Librarians)

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The January 22, 2013, Pew Internet & American Life Project report “Library Services in the Digital Age” finds that while technology services are increasingly important to library patrons, the need to borrow books and seek assistance from a librarian remains a library’s primary value.  Additional service priorities identified as essential by patrons focused on working with schools and children and making a comfortable space available for community use.  However, the study also finds that patrons would also value a wider range of technology services and that access to the Internet is rivaling book lending as the most vital service provided by libraries.  In fact, according to the study, the majority of patrons who said that their library use declined over the past five years stated that this was because they were able to access books and information online more easily than in, or via, the library.

It is encouraging, if somewhat surprising, to learn that library patrons still place a high value on books and in person consultation with librarians.  However, advances in technology are inevitably changing the way libraries function and the way information is disseminated.  So while users state that books are still valuable to them, technology is changing how books are being made available.  Because of this, libraries need to consider how they can play a larger role in technology education and services in order to better prepare their patrons for these changes.  The report finds that the majority of patrons who increased their library use in the past five years did so because they enjoy going to the library with their children and/or grandchildren.  This provides a perfect opportunity for libraries to reach out to new and inexperienced users of technology.  Librarians need not specialize in technology education themselves but can consider partnering with local schools or non-profits or setting up volunteer programs for teens and adults to teach patrons.

Another notable finding of the Pew report is that the majority of library patrons report having little to no awareness of the services offered by their library, both in the physical library and online.  This finding is perhaps more alarming given that the report also indicates that it is often the patrons who might benefit most from library services that seem least aware.  Libraries are rapidly increasing the scope and diversity of services offered—for example the rise in maker spaces and information commons.  So, that patrons are largely unaware of these advancements is troubling.  The Queens Public Library website attempts to address this issue by prominently displaying the word “Services” on its menu bar.  As a result, although the Queens Library website is not as attractive as that of the New York Public Library, its users can more readily locate the services available to them.  This type of simple adjustment in information organization and user experience can work to reduce the knowledge gap of library users.  However, as indicated in the Pew report, simply listing services information on a library website is insufficient, as many patrons are not visiting library websites.  Instead, libraries must have a presence outside of the library walls and seek ways to partner with local organizations to engage in community outreach.

The Pew report finds that current technology owners use the library less frequently and suggests that libraries need to consider ways in which they can make the library valuable to this group.  At the same time, libraries need to maintain a balance between patrons who value printed books and users who value technology.  The need to engage users with digital services—both the tech savvy and the non-tech savvy—appears to be a persistent issue.  There must be a way to meet both needs through community based outreach and programing.

Funding, community outreach, and increasing technology services are all required in order to ensure the future of libraries.  It is necessary for libraries to move forward by embracing changes in technology and making every effort to assist patrons with these changes.  However, I share the concerns of the librarian quoted in the Pew report who worries, “Sometimes I think we are looking at technology as a panacea for everything…”  Another librarian similarly asserts, “…I think it is important that libraries be an oasis for quiet thought.”  Throughout the report both librarians and patrons praise the library for its value as a community space and a space for reflection.  Speaking of the importance of branch libraries in his October 2, 2013, New York Times article “Next Time, Libraries Could Be Our Shelter From the Storm,” Michael Kimmelman writes, “The branches have become our de facto community centers, serving the widest range of citizens–indispensable in countless, especially poorer, more vulnerable neighborhoods.”  The challenge is to make the library a place valued by all members of the community it serves.

The British Library Releases 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain

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Image taken from page 13 of 'The Lamentable Vision of the Devoted Hermit (written of a sadly deceived soul and its body) The British Library has released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to download and use.  The images were selected from 17th, 18th, and 19th century books covering a wide range of subjects.  According to the Library, the primary purpose of the image release is to find new ways to navigate and arrange the images, as well as to expand upon the information available for each image.  To this end, the Library plans to launch a crowdsourcing effort allowing volunteer participants to gather and submit information and data pertaining to the images.

When a renowned organization such as the British Library releases images into public domain it helps set a precedent for free use.  In addition, the crowdsourcing aspect of this project works to support and stimulate research and directly encourages the open exchange of ideas and information.  Therefore, not only does this undertaking make available to all a remarkable wealth of images, it creates a situation where patrons are active participants in working to better understand the world.

The announcement from the British Library can be read here.

And you will find the Library’s Flickr Commons page here.