Digital Library and Image Collections

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This is just an incomplete list of some of the many online sources for digital texts and images (along with some meta-sources indexing and providing search portals for them). They're in no particular order.

The Internet Archive

This is one of the more important projects for the continuity of our civilization. I suggest that you consider not only using it, but also supporting it financially. Free libraries cost money too.

Google Books' Advanced Book Search page

See also Thoughts on Google Books.

Google's Advance Patent Search page

But download patent images via for original USPTO images without further Google image processing. They of poor enough quality as-is. (In an act of cultural vandalism, the USPTO scanned the originals at 300dpi bi-level and then sent the originals to the landfill.)

The Hathi Trust

A consortium of libraries. Most of their works are from Google Books digitizations from member libraries, but a few are from other (higher quality) digitization projects. Downloads of public domain materials are limited to individual pages if you're outside of a participating institution.

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog

A search portal for many European print and digital libraries.

US Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Amazing. Be prepared to spend days browsing. They're also very good about identifying digital rights and not claiming new rights of their own.

Specific Library of Congress online exhibits

"An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and other Printed Ephemera":

"Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers":

Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room, Digitized Materials:

The British Museum, Collection Online

That their collection is extraordinary goes without saying. That they are now licensing their own images (if copyright by the Trustees of the British Museum) under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 license is commendable.


The digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.


A search portal for the library of ETH Zurich and other Swiss libraries.

New York Public Library Maps (via

Getty Open Content Program

By the J. Paul Getty Trust, via the Getty Search Gateway (look for where it says "See all open content images"; not everything in the Getty is open content).

JSTOR Early Journals (via The Internet Archive)

But see also

Note also that for content beyond this early material, which is available normally only via subscribing institutions, JSTOR now has a limited user access program that, for occasional research, can be quite useful. See At the time of writing (2015), this access allows you to view three articles at a time on a virtual "bookshelf"; you can take articles off the "bookshelf" after 14 days. They calculate that this limits you to 78 free articles per year.

The Public Domain Review

An interesting, curated, meta-source for public domain texts and images.