The British Library has released a cool million images via Flickr Commons collected from books from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The project is a collaboration between the library and Microsoft who scanned the classic works for use in the Public Domain.
The library laid out their ambitions for the project, which aims “to find new, inventive ways to navigate, find and display these ‘unseen illustrations’.” Basically, the goal is to create detailed curation for this expansive collection of visual materials, from the macro (title, author) to the micro (historical context, specific details) via a crowdsourced effort.
The Library has already made first steps on this front, collecting the information so far on github. Here are some specifics from the Library’s Ben O’Steen:
“We plan to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray. Our intention is to use this data to train automated classifiers that will run against the whole of the content. The data from this will be as openly licensed as is sensible (given the nature of crowdsourcing) and the code, as always, will be under an open licence.”
You can do your part by getting in there and contributing to the ever-expanding data set.