Monday, February 18, 2008

Flickr+Library of Congress Images=The Commons

There has been much discussion online and in museum/archive circles about the joint project linking the Library of Congress and the digital photo site Flickr. For a discussion by a friend of Museum Anthropology, see Kim Christen's post on her site Long Road. We recieved the following announcement awhile back from a Flickr staff member and are passing it on here. This is just one of the numerous new projects that are making museum informatics a major center of gravity in our field right now.
Flickr launched a new project called The Commons giving the Flickr community the opportunity to contribute to describing the world’s public photo collections. The project is launching a pilot program with the Library of Congress which has had a Prints & Photographs Online Catalog for some time, comprised of about one million images. As part of this pilot, the Library of Congress has published approximately 3,000 photos from two of its popular existing collections to Flickr:

1) The Bain Collection of news photos and 2) American Memory: Color Photographs from the Great Depression.

Now, Flickr members can explore historic photos on Flickr and help add a rich layer of insight to photos – by adding tags and comments. The key goal of this project is to show that the meaning of content can become richer when you add more voices to the way it’s described. The project has been a huge success already. Within the first 24 hours of the launch, 4,000 unique tags were created and 500 comments were left in a flurry of enthusiasm from the community.

This relationship demonstrates how cultural entities from two separate ‘worlds’ can collaborate through social web services, and increase accessibility to cultural heritage collections from around the world. Flickr hopes to expand the project with other cultural institutions in the future, allowing members to explore more abundant collections of cultural and historic photos and truly following its vision to be the ‘eyes of the world’.

For more information, check out the Flickr blog posts:

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