Library of Congress Partners With Flickr

Posted on 2/1/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Earlier this month, the Library of Congress launched a pilot project to improve access to some 14 million prints, photographs and other visual materials in its collection. The LoC has partnered with Flickr, tapping into its vast user community to crowd-source image keywording.

LoC director of communications Matt Raymond describes the first stage of The Commons project as modest. At the moment, only 3,000 LoC images are available at Flickr. These include images from the library's most popular collections.

The archives of the U.S. Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information document, in color, World War II mobilization, aviation training and women working.  The Bain News Service collection contains glass negatives depicting early-20th-century events, with an emphasis on New York City.

Only the images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist have been made accessible on Flickr. To accommodate this, Flickr created a new license category. In the future, Flickr plans to use The Commons to host other publicly held photo collections.

The main goal is to enhance the use of metadata. Adding keywords and tags would make the LoC collections easily searchable. There is also hope that Flickr users can help caption images and identify individuals or places pictured, enhancing the quality of information.

Though the pilot is attracting much traffic and contributions, some in the pro-photography business fail to see the point. Black Star Rising columnist Anh Stack thinks LoC got it wrong. Stack's argues if the LoC wanted to make the images more accessible, it should have improved its own Web site. She does not see value in colloquial user comments and says user-generated tagging as getting out of hand, with many keywords seemingly irrelevant to the image. In addition, Stack is concerned about the impact of The Commons on the way Flickr users see rights.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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