You read that right. 1 Million free images for you to use as you see fit.

The venerable British Library, with the help of Microsoft, has digitized a huge selection of of books, manuscripts, and all manner of printed media from their collection over the last couple of years. Of course this means lots and lots of images. In the 2 years since their project began, they’ve been able to compile over a million images which in turn, have been released on Flickr under the public domain license.

Considering the incredibly large collection of images, The British Library then created The Mechanical Curator, an algorithm which finds and randomly selects images from the Library’s digitized collection and posts the image to Tumblr where the images can get tagged.

We think it’s just fantastic that such a huge collection of images has been made available to the public. Even if people don’t end up using these images in their work, just knowing that we have access to them is a great feeling. It’s as though we are given a chance to rediscover and perhaps rescue these materials from obscurity.

The British Library’s more than 1 million images can be found in their Flickr photo stream including a highlights album from The Mechanical Curator.

The British Library’s Photostream


Have a look at all the creative possibilities 1 million images can bring.



Isaac is the Co-Founder and Chief Editor of Design Instruct. He has experience in various design and art related fields including design, illustration, and photography. He's in charge of making sure that Design Instruct publishes high quality content that professional designers and digital artists demand and expect. Get in touch via email and on Twitter as @designinstruct or @IAMTHEGUBE.