Saturday, December 27, 2008

For the Common Good: The Library of Congress Flickr Pilot Project

Library of Congress building
On January 16, 2008, the Library of Congress launched a pilot project on Flickr, the popular photosharing Web site. The public was invited to tag and describe two sets of approximately 3,000 historic photos at The Library of Congress’s photostream.

The Collections
The News in the 1910s series shows the daily news scene from almost a hundred years ago, as photographed by the Bain News Service in the years 1910-1912. The following image shows Herman A. “Germany” Schaefer of the Washington Senators baseball team trying out a camera during a game:

Library Of Congress: Herman A. Schaefer

The 1930s-40s in Color series contain vivid color photos from the Great Depression and World War II. These photos capture an era generally seen only in black-and-white. Photographers working for the United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) created the images between 1939 and 1944. The following image shows a woman aircraft worker checking electrical assemblies for the Vega Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California:

Library Of Congress: Woman aircraft worker

The World War I Panoramas series contain long panoramic photos showing U. S. military personnel and camps, patriotic parades, and European battlefields and cemeteries related to World War I. The following image shows the the farewell parade in Indianapolis, Indiana March 28, 1918 for soldiers leaving for Europe:

Library Of Congress: Soldiers' farewell parade

The Public Reaction to the Collections
The Library of Congress has received an enormous amount of positive feedback from within Flickr, from the traditional press, and from the Web 2.0 community at large. Public reaction to the pilot from a broad array of users made it clear that the existence of these freely available digital materials was a welcome surprise. As suspected, many people have long been unaware of the rich historical and cultural resources available through libraries.

Here are some interesting statistics that attest to the popularity and impact of the Flickr pilot project:

  - 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
  - 79% of the 4,615 photos have been made a favorite incorporated into personal Flickr collection.
  - 7,166 comments were left on 2,873 photos by 2,562 unique Flickr accounts.
  - Less than 25 instances of user-generated content were removed as inappropriate.

For more information, see the Library Releases Report on Flickr Project posting on the Library of Congress Blog.

Redmond Library Board

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