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The NY Public Library's Digital Gallery

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You may have heard that the New York Public Library recently put a substantial portion of its collections online in the form of a Web-based gallery. You may have also heard that the response was so overwhelming that the Library was forced to briefly take the site down in order to beef up its ability to respond to a phenomenal number of visitors.

Well, back in operation and now equal to the challenges of high traffic, the NYPL Digital Gallery is open for business once again - you can see what everyone else has been looking at.

Officially launched on March 3rd, the NYPL DIgital Gallery is presently offering 275,000 images (stored on a 57-terabyte, a thousand billion bytes of data, network of servers) for public perusal and free personal use ("...individual private study, scholarship and research..."). Most of the contents of the Gallery is in the public domain, and if you can obtain your own reproduction of any image you find here, you can probably use it as you see fit.

The digitized copies on the NYPL website, however, are protected by copyright, and the Library charges a usage fee if an image is used in any "nonprofit or commercial publication, broadcast, web site, exhibition, promotional material, etc" contexts. (It's also possible - for a fee - to order high resolution digital files or hard copy prints of most images through the website.)

In terms of the territory covered by the collection, you can be excused for wondering if you've inadvertently linked your way into the British Museum or Library of Congress. In chronological terms, most of the artifacts range from the middle ages to the mid-20th century (though there are some items from outside these dates).

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