Not less than 12 million copyright-free photographs taken many moons ago will soon be accessible to everyone with web connection. This undertaking is made possible with the help of technology expert Kalev Leetaru.
A scholar from Georgetown University, Leetaru has uploaded almost 3 million of the photos to Flickr at present that was taken from around 600 million library book pages and scanned by the Internet Archive Organization. These historic pictures can be searched with keywords and tags that have been automatically combined.
Leetaru said, ‘The books, up to this point, have been treated only as text and the images have largely been ignored, which is a shame because so many of the originals, dating back to 1500, have been lost or severely damaged.’
Leetaru added ‘For all these years all the libraries have been digitizing 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.’
Leetaru programmed his own software to personalize how books would be transformed into digital form. The Internet Archive has employed a program that will revert back and retrieve culled images, and then transform the images into Jpeg format.
Leetaru intends to create his code available to others so that various libraries could reproduce what he had already finished. He also told BBC, he hope that libraries worldwide will operate as one in processing their digitized books to continually increase the enormous database of images he already started.
This is indeed a groundbreaking endeavor of Leetaru as it will help everyone to travel back time and witness what had transpired in the past. The images will inevitably help millions and millions of students from all across the globe.