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US academic uploads 2.6 million historic copyright free book images and illustrations to Flickr


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

August 29, 2014 | 3 min read

An American academic has uploaded 2.6 million of history’s copyright free images to image-sharing website Flickr to allow users to take a digital trip through time.

The Flickr will have 12 million old-time images upon completion

Kalev Leetaru, has uploaded an astonishing 2.6 million fully-tagged images and drawings from books as part of the Internet Archive Organisation's scanning process.

According to Leetaru, internet digitaisation projects have traditionally been more focused on archiving the writings of the past with images being widely ignored.

Even illustrated print ads have been uploaded to the social media archive.

Leetaru told the BBC: “For all these years all the libraries have been digitising their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works. They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that.

“Most of the images that are in the books are not in any of the art galleries of the world - the original copies have long ago been lost.”

Leetaru added: “I think one of the greatest things people will do is time travel through the images”.

As the images are fully tagged, using a single search term users can see the historical progress of places, societies and technologies such as the telephone on the account.

On the scanning process, Leetaru said: “Any library could repeat this process. It's actually my hope, that libraries around the world run this same process of their digitised books to constantly expand this universe of images.”

The Flikr account, where Leetaru will upload a whole 12 million images found via scans of over 600 million books, says: “The Internet Archive, non-profit, is building a digital library of internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.

"Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public.”

Exclusively hosting such a large volume of history's images and illustrations will be a boost for the social network which has been overtaken in popularity by services like Instagram and Snapchat.

Last year, Flickr founder Caterina Fake launched a note-sharing social network called 'Findery'.

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