Library of Congress experiments with Flickr

Many viewers provided information and tags for the historic images

An experiment by the Library of Congress to post historic photos on the photo sharing Web site Flickr, and have the public describe and tag the images, was a success, according to a report published by the library.

The photo-sharing project began Jan. 16, 2008. Library officials invited the public to tag and describe two sets of approximately 3,000 historic photos. The report about the project was published Oct. 30.

Library officials said the project was a success.

“By asking people for help and by offering broad public opportunity for interaction with collections, the Library struck a chord that fits well with Web 2.0 communities,” the report states.

In the first 24 hours after launch, Flickr reported 1.1 million total views on the library’s account, with 3.6 million views a week later. The library started loading an additional 50 photos each week beginning in mid-March. There are 4,000 photos in the account.

Currently, the library’s account averages 500,000 views a month. The site has had more than 10 million total views, according to the report.

The initial collections feature 1,600 color photographs showing the Great Depression and the World War II home front and 1,500 black-and-white news photos from the early 1900s.

The photos were already digitized and on the Library’s Web site. Flikr.com allowed library staff to quickly share the images while minimizing the need for internal information technology resources, officials said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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