May 23, 2022

Wow! An Intro to the Internet Archive Book Images Collection (2.6 Million Historic Copyright-Free Images) Available on Flickr

UPDATE: Internet Archive Joins The Commons on Flickr

As you’ll read below the technology to prepare and upload these images to Flickr is is the work of one person. Impressive!!! Of course, credit also to the Internet Archive for digitizing the books and making them accessible to all.

From the BBC:

An American academic is creating a searchable database of 12 million historic copyright-free images.

Kalev Leetaru has already uploaded 2.6 million pictures to Flickr, which are searchable thanks to tags that have been automatically added.

The photos and drawings are sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation.


Mr Leetaru began work on the project while researching communications technology at Georgetown University in Washington DC as part of a fellowship sponsored by Yahoo, the owner of photo-sharing service Flickr.

To achieve his goal, Mr Leetaru wrote his own software to work around the way the books had originally been digitised.


As part of the process, the software recognised which parts of a page were pictures in order to discard them.

Mr Leetaru’s code used this information to go back to the original scans, extract the regions the OCR program had ignored, and then save each one as a separate file in the Jpeg picture format.

The software also copied the caption for each image and the text from the paragraphs immediately preceding and following it in the book.

Read More About the Collection and Technology in the Complete BBC Article (792 Words)

Direct to Internet Archive Book Images

On a related note, last December we posted about an online collection from the British Library of more than one million images taken from digitized books first published in the 17th, 18th and 19th century books

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.