Monday, August 13, 2007

Wellcome Images: Come on in





News of the launch of the new Wellcome Images site from the Wellcome Library has been slowly percolating through the blogosphere, and has just seeped under our doors here at OHSU. While digital images available from the Wellcome Library are nothing new, what is new is the slick interface and the invitation to use all the images freely under the Creative Commons License. This means that web surfers can search for, download, and use the Wellcome Images files for use in educational and non-profit displays and presentations--always, of course, giving the proper source attribution.

So, what all is in there? For starters, the images have been broken into large, easily-browsable chunks: Wellcome, War, Wonderful, Witchcraft, Wellness, and World. While I admire the alliteration, I'm not sure that the chosen terms are necessarily user-friendly: "Witchcraft" does retrieve pictures of witches and devils, it also brings back some very interesting modern artwork. Likewise, the "Wonderful" category includes some that are paintings that I'd call good, but not necessarily wonderful. Perhaps 'wonderful' is to 'miscellaneous' what 'bumbershoot' is to 'umbrella'? Sophisticated users may prefer to use the search function, which is very fast, but limited to the small amount of metadata included for each image.

But all criticism of terms aside, there are some fantastic things to see here. Above are two of my favorites from my short searching session. One is a "scold's bridle," used to publicly punish women for speaking out against authority (this one from Brussels) and the other is what looks like an illustration of a really bad day at battle, from a mid-15th century manuscript on military surgery. As with all medical image websites, viewers beware!

1 comment:

Klaus said...

On the Wellcome Copyfraud see
http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/3945879/