Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New York Public Library Invites a Deep Digital Dive; New York Times, 1/6/16

Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times; New York Public Library Invites a Deep Digital Dive:
"But the game is what you might call a marketing teaser for a major redistribution of property, digitally speaking: the release of more than 180,000 photographs, postcards, maps and other public-domain items from the library’s special collections in downloadable high-resolution files — along with an invitation to users to grab them and do with them whatever they please.
Digitization has been all the rage over the past decade, as libraries, museums and other institutions have scanned millions of items and posted them online. But the library’s initiative (, which goes live on Wednesday, goes beyond the practical questions of how and what to digitize to the deeper one of what happens next...
A growing number of institutions have been rallying under the banner of “open content.” While the library’s new initiative represents one of the largest releases of visually rich material since the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam began making more than 200,000 works available in high-quality scans free of charge in 2012, it’s notable for more than its size.
“It’s not just a data dump,” said Dan Cohen, the executive director of the Digital Public Library of America, a consortium that offers one-stop access to digitized holdings from more than 1,300 institutions.
The New York Public has “really been thinking about how they can get others to use this material,” Mr. Cohen continued. “It’s a next step that I would like to see more institutions take.”
Most items in the public-domain release have already been visible at the library’s digital collections portal. The difference is that the highest-quality files will now be available for free and immediate download, along with the programming interfaces, known as APIs, that allow developers to use them more easily."

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