The Smithsonian now has a unified open-access picture library online, primed with an initial 2.8 million hi-res images. The licencing appears to be uniformly CC0. Another 200,000 images will reportedly be added through 2020, with more in future years.

It’s easier to use than the main ‘advanced interface’ — where, on a search for cats for instance, you’ll have a very hard time figuring out how to remove scans of the pages of old botany recorder-books (with text-only records of cat’s tail plants) — when you just want pictures of furry cats.

The new CC0 portal is very slow at present, probably due to the weight of visitors arising from the publicity and the bots from the likes of Alamy which are doubtless already strip-mining it. But a search for cats in the Collection, with CC0 eventually loaded and the first page suggested it to be a fine collection, although it rapidly turned into cat skulls and botany (‘cat’s-tail grass’ etc) on the second and third pages.

A test download gave a large 7Mb .JPG file…

It appears not to be on Google Search or Google Images in any substantial form, as yet. “CC0” is on each record page in plain-text, so can theoretically be used as a keyword by Google. But it appears, from the following search… “Cats” “CC0”

… that Google has not yet indexed the new 2.8m record pages. Indeed, one wonders if they ever will, as even a broad… “CC0”

…reveals a mere 70 results in Google Search. If they hardly index the existing pages, then what hope for the new 2.8m?