Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I write to share a development at the Library that will make our digital collections increasingly accessible and usable by the public.
As described in a piece published today in The New York Times entitled "New
York Public Library Invites a Deep Digital Dive," the Library has proactively evaluated hundreds of thousands of its digital images and documents and determined that 180,000 of them do not have any known U.S. copyright restrictions. This means that these
images are essentially in the public domain, and today we are releasing high-resolution versions along with improved metadata at nypl.org/publicdomain—setting
the standard for how to make public domain materials available.
What does this mean specifically? It means researchers, artists, students, and anyone else can legally use these digital properties however they’d like, generating new works and eventually breathing new life into the collection of NYPL. The list of items is
extremely varied and rich—from Farm Security Administration photos by Walker Evans, to manuscripts by Thoreau and Hawthorne, to correspondence from Hamilton and Jefferson, to over 20,000 maps from around the world. As the Times mentions,
the Library is even offering "Remix Residencies" to encourage artists, information designers, software developers, data scientists, and others to make transformative and creative use of these collections.
What does it mean more broadly? It means that we are making significant progress on our aggressive program to make NYPL’s renowned research collections as accessible as possible. In addition to this public release, the Library is constantly looking for resources
and partners so it can digitize more of its collection items and make them available on nypl.org.
We will continue to work to this end, and keep you apprised of all new initiatives and projects. Here’s to a wonderful, productive 2016.
Anthony W. Marx
President, The New York Public Library