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NYPL Labs, Spotlight on the Public Domain

Free for All: NYPL Enhances Public Domain Collections For Sharing and Reuse


Explore NYPL's Public Domain Collections

Today we are proud to announce that out-of-copyright materials in NYPL Digital Collections are now available as high-resolution downloads. No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse! 

The release of more than 180,000 digitized items represents both a simplification and an enhancement of digital access to a trove of unique and rare materials: a removal of administration fees and processes from public domain content, and also improvements to interfaces — popular and technical — to the digital assets themselves. Online users of the NYPL Digital Collections website will find more prominent download links and filters highlighting restriction-free content; while more technically inclined users will also benefit from updates to the Digital Collections API enabling bulk use and analysis, as well as data exports and utilities posted to NYPL's GitHub account. These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds. All subsequently digitized public domain collections will be made available in the same way, joining a growing repository of open materials.

To encourage novel uses of our digital resources, we are also now accepting applications for a new Remix Residency program. Administered by the Library's digitization and innovation team, NYPL Labs, the residency is intended for artists, information designers, software developers, data scientists, journalists, digital researchers, and others to make transformative and creative uses of digital collections and data,and the public domain assets in particular. Two projects will be selected, receiving financial and consultative support from Library curators and technologists.

To provide further inspiration for reuse, the NYPL Labs team has also released several demonstration projects delving into specific collections, as well as a visual browsing tool allowing users to explore the public domain collections at scale. These projects, which suggest just a few of the myriad investigations made possible by fully opening these collections, include:

  • a "mansion builder" game, exploring floor plans of grand turn-of-the-century New York apartments; 
  • a then-and-now comparison of New York's Fifth Avenue, juxtaposing 1911 wide angle photographs with Google Street View; and
  • a "trip planner" using locations extracted from mid-20th century motor guides that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, and other destinations where Black travelers would be welcome.

The public domain release spans the breadth and depth of NYPL's holdings, from the Library's rich New York City collection, historic maps, botanical illustrations, unique manuscripts, photographs, ancient religious texts, and more. Materials include:

We've made it easier than ever to search, browse, and download public domain items in Digital Collections. This video shows you how:


Visit for information about the materials related to the public domain update and links to all of the projects demonstrating creative reuse of public domain materials. Go forth, and reuse!

Have you been inspired by or created new works by re-using items in NYPL’s Digital Collections? We would love to hear about your work! Please share it with us using #nyplremix or by email at


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

digital photos

Thank you, NY Library - how wonderful is this. I assume that we are now free from copyright laws in using these images in our art. Is that correct? Again, we thank you. Nancy

That's correct! All out-of

That's correct! All out-of-copyright items are free to use without restriction. For more on usage guidelines for all of Digital Collections, please see

Many thanks NYlab for this

Many thanks NYlab for this generous gift...

Beautiful photos

Beautiful photos

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you.

I am a rich man.

Thank you! Very nice resource!

Thank you for this! Very nice resource and great work by the NYPL.

Thanks for all of this!

Thanks for all of this!

Any problems with anything

Any problems with anything provided in the public domain being ingested into the Internet Archive (

None whatsoever -- in fact,

None whatsoever -- in fact, Internet Archive ingesting would be a terrific result of this release! All out-of-copyright items can be used freely without restriction. For more usage information on all of our Digital Collections, please see

Stuff in the wrong century

Some of the items marked as "15th century" are from the 18th, i.e. Lossing's Field Book. FYI. Thank you for the improving the public domain!

You're welcome! Please submit

You're welcome! Please submit corrections like these through the "feedback" button on the Digital Collections site itself, in the bottom right corner of every page:


Thank you NYPL for such a trove of images and documents. I'm in awe of the effort required to make this come to fruition. I find it fascinating! Particularly, the Green Book Travel Guide.

Digital Archives

I'm slightly gobsmacked at the awesome images! Can I confirm we can share, print & if we wanted (I don't) use them commercially for no cost at all?

That's correct! All out-of

That's correct! All out-of-copyright items are free to use without restriction. For more on usage guidelines for all of Digital Collections, please see

High resolution images

This is great in intent but the search feature is so poorly executed as to make the work nearly useless. You boast of high-resolution images but this is not a criteria you can search by. So if all you are interested in is high-resolution images of world maps, this is not a sear you can accomplish. Come on you are THE New York Public Library surely you can find someone to make you a search engine that is useful to the lay public.

Digital Collections, our

Digital Collections, our online home for everything that NYPL digitizes is fully searchable. Visit and click in the search box; you'll find a checkbox that will allow you to limit your results to public domain materials. Individual item pages include an array of download options.

Will you be adding to this as you identify other items?

Thank you for providing this! Will you be adding other public domain items in your archive as high-resolution downloads? For instance, most of the items in the Denishawn Collection are pre-1923, so ought to be in the public domain, but when I look the largest size freely available appears to be 760px?

We will! We're actively

We will! We're actively reviewing and labeling previously digitized materials in our Digital Collections in order to open up as much material as we can for unrestricted use and reuse. Meanwhile, much of the material we're digitizing in-house currently is in the public domain, and those are cleared before they go online. For more on Digital Collections:

ways to search

What a fantastic effort - so good to see the NYPL following in the steps of some of the great museums. My question is if it is possible to search across genres and centuries by subject matter - such as images of a particular item (e.g.horses), or a more general search (e.g. anatomical images)? Where can I find our how to search the archive, or what kind of categorization is possible?

The NYPL Digital Collections

The NYPL Digital Collections site is fully searchable. Go to and enter any search term. You can further refine your searches from there using the facets on the left side of the page.

What about films and

What about films and screenplays?

This wasn't free to release

It had to be digitized by someone and someone likely had to be paid to digitize it. I hope those who do use these images to generate commercial profit consider donating some of what's made so that the NYPL can continue to release great collections like this.

Well stated, Eric.

Well stated, Eric.

Limits on Reuse

I'm wondering about the limits of re-use for these new, high-res public domain images. Would the Library object if someone reformatted them, added new metadata and made them available for commercial use, provided that NYPL was acknowledged as the source and the public domain status of the original images was also acknowledged? What if they were used in commercial products (I noticed that the Library is already selling these as art prints, so presumably these kinds of uses would compete with the Library)? Any thoughts on commercial use restrictions would be great. Thanks Tom

All out-of-copyright items

All out-of-copyright items are free to use without restriction. If you find items that are designed as "Free to Use Without Restriction," you can make any kind of use you wish. For more on usage guidelines for all of Digital Collections, please see


Are all the images now public domain too?

This is absolutely marvelous.

This is absolutely marvelous. Many many thanks! As we are doing online classes at Yale these will be invaluable. I congratulate the dedicated staff and assistants who worked to make this possible. Let's continue to support the NY Public Library as a unique culture treasure!

Typo in city name

First, thank you for this!! When I went to check out pics from my hometown I noticed it was spelled wrong. It happens a lot but thought you should be aware of it. It's spelled Hazleton not Hazelton. Here's the link where I found it About 10 rows down starts the Hazleton pics. Again, it's very picayune so if it's not changed that's fine. Just wanted to make you aware :)

You're welcome! Please submit

You're welcome! Please submit corrections like these through the "feedback" button on the Digital Collections site itself, in the bottom right corner of every page:

Many Thanks!

As an artist, my mind swims at the thought of all that can be created in conjunction with works from the past. Thank you for putting in the effort to release these images. I can't wait to see what is made in the future with things from the past.

HMD viewing apps

I so hope someone creates applications for Google Cardboard and for Gear VR that gives specific access to this set with some reasonable navigation features. Is there an API someone could use to construct that?

What a great idea! NYPL

What a great idea! NYPL Digital Collections does have an API, in fact. Sign up for access at

This is such an amazing collection

WOW! thank you so much for giving us the ability to use these amazing images. Always great to find a new collection of images that everyone has not used a million times before.thank you


Great initiative ! i'm french and i dream one day to fly away to NYC.

Question about free files public domain

Hi I have see the recent option related Public domain with the release of many wonderful photos and illustrations, in a your complitaion of sample of this available material there is also: Lewis Hine's photographs of Ellis Island immigrants and social conditions in early 20th century America. And also Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts from Western Europe etc. But If I link on this photos d'ont appear yet the free note text about it and the related large file in Tiff, why ? Sorry for my very bad English, I'm an italian researcher

Love it

Love it

Thank you!

Thank you!



¡¡Muchas gracias !!...

¡¡Muchas gracias !!... Compartir es preservar para el futuro. ;)

Thank you! This is an amazing

Thank you! This is an amazing resource.

Public Domain Collections

Thank you very much!!!!


Thank you!!!! Can't wait to start exploring the collections!

Great Resource

Thank you for making these images available for use. Some of the photos are outstanding of old New York and can be used in my art to develop my skills with black and white photography.

Invaluable resource!!

Thank you for sharing this inspiring online research tool!!

ouverture du fonds photographies

Merci ! c'est la meilleure nouvelle depuis le début de l'année ... et continuez !

Big thanks

Big thank you to NYPL!

Subject index

Where can I find a table of contents / subject index, of what you've got and how to get there?

The NYPL Digital Collections

The NYPL Digital Collections site is fully searchable. Go to and enter any search term. You can further refine your searches from there using the facets on the left side of the page.


Nice, thank you !

Public Domain Books?

This is a great addition to the library! How do I find public domain books at NYPL?

Hi Kassie, there are some

Hi Kassie, there are some books digitized as part of Digital Collections, but you will find many more in our electronic resources and HathiTrust. Visit to search the collection (toggle to E-books for research to search across public domain content among other things) or get the link directly to HathiTrust.

NYPL Public Domain Image Collection

Can someone please provide a direct link to the new Public Domain image collection - I can't find it anywhere! Help! Just a link where I can search in the public domain collection. Thanks for any help you can provide!

The direct link to Digital

The direct link to Digital Collections filtered for public domain items is . Enjoy!

Will archival video be released?

I'm curious if there are any video files available for release or if there is ever a plan for release of pubic domain video? Thank you for this amazing and generous gift to the pubic!

Is this webapplication available as opensource?

is the code for this webapplication available? if yes where This work is FANTASTIC!!

For technical details about

For technical details about the Digital Collections platform, see

This resource is so

This resource is so incredible...Thank you!

So does this mean that only

So does this mean that only the items that come up when you "search only public domain materials" are out-of-copyright?


Is it the case that only photos that come up when filtering by "search only public domain materials" apply? Essentially I want to use a photo of Marlon Brando ( for a poster at my grandmother's funeral (long story...but she had a phone convo with him). Thanks.

Are TIFFs only available to NYPL cardholders?

What a great collection, thanks to NYPL for making it available! I'm in Australia and can't seem to download TIFFs. Are they only available to library cardholders?

Thank you

Un énorme merci pour toutes ces richesses. Valérie (France)

Unsuccessfully trying to gain entry into public domain photos

I cannot access these public domain collections with a huge FEEDBACK covering the entire page denying me access to viewing the photos? This sort of access denial has been ongoing for more than a year. Why?

Device and browser?

Can you let me know what type of device you're using to access Digital Collections, as well as which browser you're using? Hopefully I can assist. Thanks.

Request for information

Hello this is a fantastic resource. Thank you. Do you have any information on how to determine if a book or publication is "out of copyright "? I am in the process of writing a book and wanted to use old illustrations from very old books, maps, ephemera and newspapers but I want to make sure that I am not violating copyright laws. ( most are from the 1800s and most of the remainder from before 1935 ) Do you have anything I could read that would give me this information ?

A Tricky Question

"...[T]he publication date of an item can be a critical fact to determine whether the item is in the public domain. But the definition of publication is not always intuitive." You can learn more at Unfortunately, I don't believe there is a simple how-to guide on this topic given the complexities involved. Good luck with your book!

Download options limited for the most desirable images?

Why does it seem all the images that I want to download are still limited to 750px resolution? It seems like the library went out of its way to limit items like old engravings of animals/plants and other more graphic items such as borders and illuminated manuscripts.

macOS High Sierra will not permit opening hi-res versions

I recently upgraded my operating system from macOS Sierra to High Sierra (Version 10.31.1). I downloaded a high-resolution photo, but I am unable to open it. This message appears: "[filename.tiff] can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer. Your security preferences allow installation of only apps from the App Store and identified developers." (Yes, even though this is a tiff file, that dialogue identifies it as an "app".) Do you why this is happening, and whether there is a solution for this? The 760 px version of the image downloads and opens through the download link, but the largest size of the image that's available only via the pull-down menu will not open. Thanks.

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