Recently I stumbled across this article in Library Journal (3/1/08)

The Library of Congress (LC) has joined photo-sharing site Flickr to make available 3000 photos for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist, even though the library doesn’t own copyright. The goal: community tagging for segments of the George Grantham Bain Collection, one of America’s earliest news picture agencies (1910–20), and color photos from the Great Depression and World War II (1939–44) from the U.S. Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information (example at right).

As LC’s Matt Raymond explained on the LC Blog, “many photos are missing key caption information such as where the photo was taken and who is pictured. If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images.”

As part of this pilot, Flickr has created The Commons, a new model for publicly held photographic collections. “For the time being on Flickr, this new usage is being contained to the Library of Congress account,” Flickr explained. If the pilot works, other interested cultural institutions may join in.

I love it that the Library of Congress is availing its august institutional self of web 2.0 opportunity. If the Library of Congress approves of and utilizes community tagging, and is spearheading a new model for publicly held photographic collections, then 2.0 is truly on the map for libraries and other large institutions. The doors are swinging open to collaboration.

Library of Congress Photos on Flickr
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