Still getting back to my routine after having a great time at both MLA and CLA. Will post lsides and comments later, but for a morning pick-me-up, read this article in praise of public libraries. You will enjoy it.
In 1872, the right to know led the Worcester Massachusetts Public Library to open its doors on Sunday. Many viewed that as sacrilege. Head librarian Samuel Green calmly responded that a library intended to serve the public could do so only if it were accessible when the public could use it. Six day, 60-hour workweeks meant that if libraries were to serve the majority of the community they must be open on Sundays. Referring to those who might not spend their Sundays at worship Green impishly added, â€œIf they are not going to save their souls in the church they should improve their minds in the library.â€
I wrote a little bit about the Flickr Commons project in an article for Computers in Libraries magazine. You may have seen it mentioned here and elsewhere in library blogland because two prominent libraries, the Library of Congress and BibliothÃ¨que de Toulouse have put collections there. I’m most fond of the Smithsonian’s collection though I pretty much love all of them and love seeing No Known Copyright Restrictions next to all those images. So yay, I love Flickr.
However, a question many people ask is: is this project working to do anything other than give librarians fancy 2.0 tools to use? In a recent lengthy post by another participating cultural heritage organization, The Powerhouse Museum, they explain what the project has done for them. I’ve pulled out a few quotes. [thanks peacay!]
In the first 4 weeks of the Commons we had more views of the photos than the same photos in the entirety of last year on our own website. It wasnâ€™t as if we made the images on our own website all that hard to find – they were well indexed on our own site by Google, they were made available to the national federated image search/repository Picture Australia, and they also existed in our OPAC. Still, that was no match for Flickr.
Whilst some of the information we are learning about the images this way could probably have been discovered by the Museum itself, that the public has been able to do this for us and often within hours of new images going up on to the site speaks volumes… This is also very much about empowering and acknowledging the importance of â€˜amateurâ€™ knowledge, which in the networked environment can often outpace, and sometimes outperform, isolated â€˜professionalâ€™ knowledge.
Tags are easy and weâ€™re treating them just like our other community generated metadata. Now weâ€™ve passed the 3 month mark weâ€™ve pulled all the tags to date back into our own collection database online where they will soon appear alongside the tags that have been on our own site.