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.