One Million Images: the British Library Labs Collection


Unless otherwise specified, the images we’ve been using on The Sea of Books all come from the British Library Labs scanned images collection.  This is a project which is very dear to our hearts, as it consists of a massive, confusing and wonderful dataset, full of surprising gems!

ain't give a damn
Free-wheelin’ with Mr. Hoopdriver.  (From The Wheels of Chance; a Holiday Adventure, by H. G. Wells.)

In 2013, the British Library Labs released a set of over a million scanned images into the public domain.  These are all taken from works which are out of copyright, which were digitised by Microsoft and then gifted back to the British Library Labs in order for anyone to use, edit, and remix.  (Here is an interview with some more details on the background of this collection.)

friendship ouida hedge
You’re probably all wondering why I asked you here. (From Friendship: A Story, by Ouida.)

We here at Nation, Genre and Gender are enormous fans of the BLL images and have whiled away many a happy hour while we should probably have been working on other things, browsing the Flickr collection or scrolling through the archives of the Mechanical Curator, a delightful creation which selects a random image every hour and uploads them to Tumblr.  You can also find them categorised by the novels they come from (my current favourite page on the Internet), or check out the Wiki for other suggestions on how to find images of interest.

If you have any idea what’s going on here, please let me know.  I have a few… questions about this image. (From Kulturgeschichte … Vierte Auflage. Neu bearbeitet von M. von Brandt.)

If you’re interested in finding out more about the source of any of the pictures, the full PDF of the scanned book is available on the Flickr page for each image.  Why not have a closer look – or even add a few tags to a picture you like?

Image from The Evil Guest
Chillin’.  (From The Evil Guest, by one of our favourite authors, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.)


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