While libraries are wonderful things, one of the worst parts about them is that unless you travel to where they reside, their glorious collections remain a mystery to you. Thank goodness for technology.
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and it contains over 13 million books, 920,000 journals and newspapers, 57 million patents, 3 million sound recordings and a heck of a lot more. While this is wonderful, unless you find yourself in its hallowed halls, you aren’t likely to ever see any of those treasures.
In Dec. of last year the British Library took a major step into the 21st century and opened a Flickr account that now houses over 1 million images from its collection and continues to grow. And what makes this even more awesome is that it is making most of these images available under the Creative Commons license so you are free to use them as you wish. The only drawback is that many images are lacking much in the way of metadata, so right now it’s more about browsing than actual searching, but the effort is still to be applauded.
Be warned, it is super easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole with this collection and find yourself browsing for ages.
Now, if only more libraries and museums would do this.