The Library of Congress just announced a report that was written at the end of October on their experience with the Flickr Commons. The full report spans some 50 pages, but the executive summary is a pithy 2 1/2 pages of text. They also offer a separate seven-page “Report Summary”. One of these is likely to be of interest to many of our partners, not the least of which are those partner institutions who are also participating in the Flickr Commons:
- Brooklyn Museum
- Library of Virginia
- National Library of New Zealand
- New York Public Library
- Smithsonian Insitution
Some of the statements that jumped out at me include:
The Library of Congress, like many cultural heritage organizations, faces a number of challenges as it seeks to increase discovery and use of its collections. A major concern is making historical and special format materials easier to find in order to be useful for educational and other pursuits. At the same time, resources are limited to provide detailed descriptions and historical context for the many thousands of items in research collections. The Library also faces competition for the attention of an online community that has ever-expanding choices of where to pursue its interests.
One solution worth exploring is to participate directly in existing Web 2.0 communities that offer social networking functionality. Reaching out to unknown as well as known audiences can attract more people to comment, share, and interact with libraries. Taking collections to where people are already engaged in community conversations might also encourage visits to a library’s Web site where the full wealth of resources are available.
As of October 23, 2008, there have been 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
More than 500 Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) records have been enhanced with new infomation provided by the Flickr Community.
Average monthly visits to all PPOC Web pages rose 20% over the five month period of January-May 2008, compared to the same period in 2007.
The 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 Flickr team recommends that this experiment in Web 2.0 become an ongoing program with expanded involvement in Flickr Commons and other appropriate social networking opportunities for non-photographic collections. The benefits appear to far outweight the costs and risks. [emphasis added]
Congratulations to the Library of Congress for pioneering the Flickr Commons, and kudos to our partner institutions that have joined.
Roy Tennant works on projects related to improving the technological infrastructure of libraries, museums, and archives.