The Library of Congress and Flickr

A year ago the Library of Congress asked members of the public to tag and describe two sets of approximately 3000 historic photos using Flickr, the photosharing website.  The LOC reports that within the first 24 hours of the project starting Flickr recorded 1.1 million total views on the account, with 3.6 million views a week later, and have had 10.4 million views on Flickr up to October 2008.  Very impressive figures indeed!

LOC’s Flickr Community

The project was able to stimulate interest not only in the images themselves, and it would appear from the report that the academic and public community were surprised by the depth of cultural and historic resources available at the library.  But the project was also able to prompt interest in web 2.0 technologies and foster an interest in the library and its diverse resources and collections.

The LOC reported that the project pilot had the following outcomes:

  • 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
  • 79% of the 4,615 photos have been made a “favorite” (i.e., are incorporated into personal Flickr collections).
  • More than 15,000 Flickr members have chosen to make the Library of Congress a “contact,” creating a photostream of Library images on their own accounts.
  • 7,166 comments were left on 2,873 photos by 2,562 unique Flickr accounts.
  • 67,176 tags were added by 2,518 unique Flickr accounts.
  • 4,548 of the 4,615 photos have at least one community-provided tag.
  • Less than 25 instances of user-generated content were removed as inappropriate.
  • More than 500 Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) records have been enhanced with new information provided by the Flickr Community.

More information about the project and the full report can be found at the LOC’s Prints and Photographs reading room. There was also a very interesting article in the New York Times exploring tagging and descriptive metadata in Flickr and Wikipedia.

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