Library of Congress and photosharing site Flickr today announced a partnership that will put photos from the LoC's collection online in a social environment and users to interact with them. The Library is home to more than 14 million photographs and other visual materials, and to start they've selected about 1500 works each from two of their collections that are known to exist in the public domain. The images come from the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information and The George Grantham Bain Collection, for which no known copyright exists. The collections will be housed on the LoC's Flickr page.The
As part of the pilot program with the Library of Congress, Flickr has launched a new tagging initiative called The Commons. The Commons encourages people to help describe the historical photos being added to Flickr by institutions like the Library of Congress by tagging them or commenting on them.
"From the Librarys 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," said Matt Raymond, the LoC's blogger-in-chief. "One of our goals, frankly, is to learn as much as we can about that power simply through the process of making constructive use of it."
The photos, which are already available on the Library's photo and prints page (along with over 1 million others), may not be on Flickr permanently. The length of the pilot program will be determined by the amount of interest and activity shown by Flickr users, according to the LoC.
According to George Oates, at Flickr, the pilot program with the Library has two main goals, "firstly, to increase exposure to the amazing content currently held in the public collections of civic institutions around the world, and secondly, to facilitate the collection of general knowledge about these collections, with the hope that this information can feed back into the catalogues, making them richer and easier to search."
Flickr also said today that the site now houses over 20 million tags which help to power the search function of the site.