Brooklyn Museum books online!

About a year ago, inspired by LACMA’s Reading Room, we started thinking about digitizing some Brooklyn Museum publications. We were excited to learn that many of the Museum’s publications had already been digitized–Google Books, Microsoft, and university digitization projects have all created huge amounts of content that is now part of the HathiTrust Digital Library hosted at the University of Michigan. Bonanza!

Indian. Page from an Astrological Treatise, ca. 1750. Opaque watercolor on paper, sheet: 7 3/4 x 4 1/2 in. (19.7 x 11.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, 71.120

There’s an Elephant in the Library.
Organizers Promise It Will Never Forget.
Hathi (pronounced hah-tee) is the Hindi word for elephant.

Enter copyright. Many of the books in the database are available only as “limited — search only” records. Hathi Trust books that fall into the Public Domain are automatically available, but everything after 1923 has to be researched and copyright cleared…OR…the copyright holder has to grant permission.

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the content on the Brooklyn Museum website is licensed under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license. HathiTrust now offers that option to rights holders. It was a natural for us to jump in and offer pre-1990 Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Institute publications under CC terms, too. More recent books will come online gradually, as they go out of print and the stock dwindles (yes, we still want to sell books).  And books that we co-published are going to take some legwork to acquire permission from partners.

There’s a lot to dig into, from Charles Edwin Wilbour’s Travels in Egypt (1880-1891) to John I.H. Baur’s 1940 Eastman Johnson catalog to Linda Ferber’s 1973 work on William Trost Richards.

Thomas Pollack Anshutz (American, 1851-1912). Boy Reading: Ned Anshutz, ca. 1900. Oil on canvas, 38 1/16 x 27 1/16 in. (96.7 x 68.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 67.135

A book is still a beautiful thing — these don’t have their pretty covers and the illustrations can be…hmm…less than optimal — but there’s a lot to be said for being able to dive in and READ whenever you want. We hope that you’ll enjoy this new resource, but that you’ll also visit your library (or ours)  to hold these treasures in your hands.

Tell us what you’re reading!