Inside the books of the Internet Archive

Internet archive has started to extract images with no known copyright restrictions from their millions of scanned books and post them to Flickr.

All of the images from "An alphabet of animals" (1865) at

All of the images from “An alphabet of animals” (1865) at

Notably each image includes a variety of subject tags extracted from the books original metadata with information like the time period, book publisher or the author so you can search through the collection in many ways.

Image from page 9 of "An alphabet of animals" (1865)

Image from page 9 of “An alphabet of animals” (1865)

Most importantly they have included snippets of the text right before and after the pictures plus a link back to the full book in so you can see the image in context.


An alphabet of animals (1865) full book at the Internet Archive

These are just some examples from our Chapbook collection but there are (as of October 22, 2014) over 2.6 million more images up at their account.

With the algorithm for image detection isn’t always perfect, see

Image from page 4 of "The good shepherd" (1845)


Image from page 6 of "Park's Tom Thumb" (1836)

it’s a pretty great tool for discovery!

Found on the web: Digital archive of restaurant menus

The New York Public Library recently released a digital archive of restaurant menus dating from 1851 to 2008. Not only have they digitized the historical menus they are in the process of crowdsourcing the transcriptions of the menus with 14,592 of 17,423 completed so far. This is opening up not only the menus but the data inside.

For example it’s now incredibly easy to find out that macaroni and cheese appears on 33 individual menus and shows up as early as 1890. It also raises question such as why did the dish’s popularity spike in 1919?

New York Public Library data on Macaroni And Cheese

New York Public Library data on Macaroni And Cheese


The NYPL is also offering up the data as a quick CSV download if you want to play with it and they have a public API of the menus (their first such effort) if that is your thing.

This digital archive represents a great open research resources for a variety of fields. For the design or marketing majors you could study the evolution of what the menu looks like. Or you could use it as a primary source in an economics paper on changing prices of a t-bone steak.

For more resources on food scholarship here at Mcgill you can check out the open access journal CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures or you can come visit our Rare Books and Special Collections reading room and ask to see the cookbook collection. 

eScholarship: A novel as thesis

Guest post written by K. Joan Harrison

Did you know that past McGill English students have submitted a novel instead of a thesis in requirement for the Master of Arts degree? If you are looking for some fiction to give you a break over the semester you can read these great stories by downloading them from eScholarship, McGill’s open access institutional repository.

A few interesting ones to check out

K. Joan Harrison is a McGill School of Information Studies student who has been working with the Digitization & Delivery team to digitize and upload McGill theses to eScholarship, our open access institutional repository.

Found on the web: A guide to open access images

Today I wanted to feature this great guide to finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media created by Carli Spina at Harvard Law School library.

Its main feature is a good list of sites that have open access images making it easy to find material you can freely use in your research or teaching. I was happy to see some of my personal favourites included like Flickr Commons for historical photographs and the Rijksmuseum for reproductions of old masters artwork.

Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media by Harvard Law School Library.  URL:

Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media by Harvard Law School Library. URL: