Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Library of Congress on Flickr

In January of this year, the Library of Congress initiated a pilot project on Flickr with two image sets: 1930s-40s in Color photographs were created for the United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) between 1939 and 1944, while News in the 1910s images were photographed by the Bain News Service in about 1910-1912.  As of this writing these collections comprise just over 3,200 images, with plans for regular augmentation occurring in batches of 50.  The images were selected for this project in part because existing records about them are minimal, and LC hopes to gain a better understanding of how social tagging and community input might benefit both the Library and users of the collections.  The public is invited to tag these photos, and the response has been phenomenal.  Tens of thousands of tags have been added, and in some cases users have provided LC with valuable information that had been lacking in the scant LC records.  The LC blog reports that as of March 20, they have modified 68 of their bibliographic records thanks to this project.  One example of how the promise of social tagging theory is becoming reality!  LC neither grants nor denies permissions for the use of these images; they present no known publication or distribution restrictions, although privacy rights may apply.  While this project is exciting for the potential of social tagging and the current and possible technical interfaces that a service like Flickr provides, the LC Prints & Photographs Online Catalog still offers access to around a million images on its web site. 

Image: Jack Delano, "Backstage" at the "girlie" show at the Vermont state fair, Rutland, September 1941. From 1930s-40s in Color.

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