Long before The Library of Congress (LC) made the announcement last week about planning a World Digital Library (WDL), they've been digitizing material of all types for many years along with cataloging books (as you might expect) and offering MANY other services.
One searchable digitized collection from LC that you should know about is a catalog of imagery from the The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. As of today, 1 million digitized images are now available via the catalog. Access to the catalog is free.
It's possible to search the entire collection or individual collections one at a time. It's also possible to browse some of the collections. Finally, most of the images have been given subject access using the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials that now includes hyperlinked subjects for many images. I've also blogged about this thesaurus in the past. For the latest on what's happening at the Prints & Photographs Division, check out this "What's New" page.
Fast Fact: The catalog provides access through group or item records to about 65% of the Division's holdings, a portion of which are accompanied by digital images.
In our article about the WDL, we mention both the American Memory Project and the LC Global Gateway which are homes to gigabytes of digitized content. In the future, I plan to post on some of these tools and collections when things slow down (yeah right) over the holidays.
In the past, I've also blogged about another specialty database that LC offers called Library of Congress Authorities. Nevertheless, it's a good database to verify names, spellings, etc. More about authority files in this helpful FAQ.