Public Domain Day 2021

Sharing data from the MIT Libraries catalog for holdings published in 1925

Data from the MIT Libraries catalog of holdings published in 1925

In past years, MIT Libraries has celebrated Public Domain Day by digitizing works entering the public domain. This year we’re taking a slightly different approach to celebrating the fact that many new works can now be broadly read, performed, remixed, and adapted as part of our shared cultural heritage. For Public Domain Day 2021, we’re sharing data

In order to decide which books to digitize and highlight each year, we typically start with an export from our catalog of all the titles published in the relevant year. In 2021, that year is 1925. For various reasons, including the immense digitization efforts reflected in the collections of  HathiTrust and the Internet Archive and competing priorities caused by the global pandemic, we’ve decided that the most useful thing we can share is data from the MIT Libraries catalog showing holdings published in 1925. This way, anyone see the full list and use it for whatever purposes they see fit. 

The dataset provides titles, authors, languages, publishers, locations, and subjects for all the titles in the MIT physical collection published in 1925. We’re sharing the original exported file, a cleaned up version, the scripts used to clean the data, and documentation. Our plan is to retrospectively share similar files for a few years that are already in the public domain, and to continue sharing the title lists each year, as more works shed their copyright constraints. We hope sharing many years’ worth of data will allow for interesting longitudinal analysis of MIT Libraries’ collecting and cataloging practices. 

Check out the dataset, and explore the public domain!