NYPL Launches New API Allowing Developers Access to Vast Archives of Digitized Creative Works

Janet Wagner, Data Journalist / Full Stack Developer
Apr. 08 2013, 10:00AM EDT

Earlier this year, ProgrammableWeb reported that the New York Public Library (NYPL) had launched the What's on the Menu API, the first public API released by the institution. The New York Public Library has just announced the launch of the NYPL Digital Collections API which allows developers programmatic access to the Library's vast collections of digitized creative works including manuscripts, historical maps, rare prints, photographs and much more.

Manhattan Bridge

Image Credit: New York Public Library

The NYPL Digital Collections API not only provides access to the digitized collections of the NYPL, but provides access to over 1 million objects and records that can be searched, crawled, manipulated and integrated into websites and applications. This advanced programming capability has been made possible due to significant portions of the digitized collections being made available as machine-readable data.

The NYPL Digital Collections API uses REST architecture and responses are returned in either JSON or XML format. The Metadata format used is MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema) which is a bibliographic schema developed by the Library of Congress primarily for library applications.

The New York Public Library also announced that the library is partnering with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), contributing images and data from two NYPL collections; the Thomas Addis Emmet Collection and the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection. The Digital Public Library of America is a project that aims to make the materials of America’s libraries, archives, and museums openly available, usable and widely used.

The New York Public Library has made great progress in the digitalization of the library's collections allowing for greater accessibility and increased user engagement. Developers interested in accessing the digital collections and data available through the NYPL Digital Collections API can find detailed information in the API documentation.

Janet Wagner Janet is a data journalist and full stack developer based in Toledo, Ohio. Her focus revolves around APIs, open data, data visualization and data-driven journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @webcodepro and on Google+

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