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Library of Congress partners with Flickr…and you (= socialized metadata)

Very interesting posting from the venerable Library of Congress on its blog (which by itself is pretty cool). Here’s a snippet:

Out of some 14 million prints, photographs and other visual materials at the Library of Congress, more than 3,000 photos from two of our most popular collections are being made available on our new Flickr page, to include only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.

The real magic comes when the power of the Flickr community takes over. We want people to tag, comment and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo, which will benefit not only the community but also the collections themselves. For instance, many photos are missing key caption information such as where the photo was taken and who is pictured. If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images.

We’re also very excited that, as part of this pilot, Flickr has created a new publication model for publicly held photographic collections called “The Commons.” Flickr hopes—as do we—that the project will eventually capture the imagination and involvement of other public institutions, as well.


Except for my general nervousness about putting this stuff into a privately held, for-profit organization, I think this is quite cool. It has the advantage of putting the data where the people already are. As a footnote to the posting says, it takes a photo of a grain elevator as an example “because it helps illustrate that there are active Flickr user groups for even such diverse subjects as grain elevators.” As the Commons page says,

The key goals of this pilot project are to firstly give you a taste of the hidden treasures in the huge Library of Congress collection, and secondly to how your input of a tag or two can make the collection even richer.

You’re invited to help describe photographs in the Library of Congress’ collection on Flickr, by adding tags or leaving comments.


Gives me little goosebumps.


And, by the way, the photos are fantastic. [Tags: ]

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