Culture + The Remix (Library Edition)

Libraries mixing it up

The Internet increasingly lends itself to wild combinations, in the best ways. Internet artists, bloggers, curators, and designers cleverly remix ideas, images, sound bites and videos available to everyone on the web to create information-rich products that refine our ways of seeing the world.

Recently the New York Public Library released over 180,000 of its archival images into the public domain, with an invitation to create. This project challenges the idea of Internet dwellers as passive consumers. These collections are meant to be the stuff of future projects, from the artistic to the technical to the cutesy, and the library wants patrons across the web to join in this creative venture.

Visit #nyplremix: Get Creative with the Public Domain to discover their project ideas.

c u l t u r e + c r a f t

Before learning about the NYPL release, I was image diving on Flickr. Using the Font Candy app on my iPad, I added some flare to photos from the State Library of New South Wales. I love adding a modern twist to the classics. Be sure to click through to the original image to check out any possible restrictions on use, even if it is listed as having “no known copyright restrictions.” The library designates some images for research purposes only and they can’t be used without prior permission.

In the Labs

NYPL Labs is an innovative team of technologists and designers who are helping to transform the NYPL’s digital collections into works of art and historically useful research tools. One of their aids for exploring the public domain collection is this visualization tool. View the images in a grid organized by date of creation, color (my favorite!), or genre.

Here are just 3 of the Labs’ incredible projects.

1. Stereogranimator

This tool allows users to take stereographs in the NYPL collection (or their affiliate libraries’ collections) and turn them into web-based animations! In sixty seconds I created this GIF of the Canyon of Ladore in Dinosaur National Monument.

If you have a pair of 3-D glasses you can see the image in anaglyph form. I don’t know exactly what to do with this GIF explosion! If I were more clever I would come up with a Mallory-Ortbergesque Tumblr blog with snarky photo captions.

2. Radioactive interactive online exhibit

In 2011 the NYPL hosted an exhibition highlighting Lauren Redness’s work in Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallouta biography of the founders of radium and polonium and a revealing radioactive history. Redniss’s gorgeous cyanotype illustrations capture the eerie artistry of romantic chemistry and scientific exploration. The accompanying online exhibit offers insights into the science and artistry behind the book (the book is incredible, by the way, and actually glows in the dark!). 

<p><a href=”″>The Instability Of The Matter</a> from <a href=”″>Lauren Redniss</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

3. Google Street View Layers

Google’s Street View is mesmerizing, but what if you could see the street as it looked during the early years of this technology? This brush tool lets you erase paint on New York City’s Bowery Wall to uncover mural layers underneath for a bit of surrealist fun.

Feeling creative? 

Watch these artists explain their NYPL-inspired creations.

Check out Jessica Pigza’s Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects.

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