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Library of Congress Issues Report on Its Flickr Project

Library of Congress Photos on Flickr. The Library of Congress has prepared a report on the results of the first nine months of it use of Flickr.

The report: For the Common Good: The Library of Congress Flickr Pilot Project, by Michelle Springer, Beth Dulabahn, Phil Michel, Barbara Natanson, David Reser, David Woodward, and Helena Zinkham. October 30, 2008

This project significantly increased the reach of Library content and demonstrated the many kinds of creative interactions that are possible when people can access collections within their own Web communities. The contribution of additional information to thousands of photographs was invaluable. Performance measures documented in this report illustrate how the project has been successful in achieving the objectives and desired outcomes of the Library’s strategic goals. The Flickr project increases awareness of the Library and its collections; sparks creative interaction with collections; provides LC staff with experience with social tagging and Web 2.0 community input; and provides leadership to cultural heritage and government communities.

Near the end of the report, the authors quote some of the typical fears about projects like this and say that experience has not borne out the concerns of critics.

At the start of the pilot, critics pointed out several risks often expressed as questions. Experience so far has not borne out their concerns. The skeptics wondered: Would the public conversation contribute to a better understanding of the photos or would fan mail, false memories, fake facts, and uncivil discourse obscure knowledge? Would a public-commercial partnership undermine the Library’s reputation for impartiality? Would the Library lose control of its collections? Would library catalogs and catalogers become obsolete? Would the need to moderate and respond to comments overwhelm all other work? Would history be dumbed-down? Would photographs be disrespected or exploited? Would entire collections be welcome or would selection of safe content border on censorship of historical information?

This is an interesting, well done report with specific details that should be useful to others thinking about how to expand their library services.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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