The Commons – Library of Congress photo’s on Flickr

The Library of Congress and Flickr together announced a pilot to put a selection of the photo collection of the LOC on Flickr. The community will tag. Will it also capture the imagination of other institutions?

Out of some 14 million prints, photographs and other visual materials at the Library of Congress, more than 3000 photos from two of the most popular collections are being made available on the new Flickr page. Including only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.

The Library of Congress is not the first putting their archive on Flickr to gain more visibility and accessibility. A lot of prominant museums already did, like the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Powerhouse Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum & the Renwick Museum. They all put their collection in a place where people actually spend more time than on the website of the museum itself.

The Commons
So, would this grand announcement be just a clever marketing trick to get the attention of the internet savvy youth? Maybe. But The Library of Congres doesn’t want to be just another collection on Flickr. They officially partnered with Flickr to move the Flickr community to tag the photo’s and baptised the pilot “The Commons”.

Their goal is to increase exposure to the collections and to facilitate the collection of general knowledge with the hope that this information can feed back into the catalogues, making them richer and easier to search. With this pilot the Library of Congress embraces the “power of the web”, as we can read on their blog:

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. From the Library’s perspective, this pilot project is a statement about the power of the Web and user communities to help people better acquire information, knowledge and—most importantly—wisdom.

I hope that this pilot will get the attention of other institutions and encourage them to explore the rules of the web more profoundly. If you take a look at the collection already tagged it is impressive to see that some objects already have 25 tags. Somebody got payed to do this?

For the press release of the Library of Congress pilot on Flickr click here.

This entry was posted by Nikki Timmermans on Thursday, January 17th 2008