The Library of Congress has finished a report (full report and shorter summary in pdf) summing up what they’ve learned after the first nine months of their experimentation with Flickr. Here is an excerpt from the summary. Look at these numbers.
The following statistics attest to the popularity and impact of the pilot. As of October 23, 2008, there have been:
- 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
- 79% of the 4,615 photos have been made a â€œfavoriteâ€ (i.e., are incorporated into personal Flickr collections).
- More than 15,000 Flickr members have chosen to make the Library of Congress a â€œcontact,â€ creating a photostream of Library images on their own accounts.
- 7,166 comments were left on 2,873 photos by 2,562 unique Flickr accounts.
- 67,176 tags were added by 2,518 unique Flickr accounts.
- 4,548 of the 4,615 photos have at least one community-provided tag.
- Less than 25 instances of user-generated content were removed as inappropriate.
- More than 500 Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) records have been enhanced with new information provided by the Flickr Community.
Between January and May 2008, the Library saw an increase in hits at its own Web site. For Bain images placed on Flickr, views/downloads rose approximately 60% for the period January-May 2008, compared to the same time period in 2007. Views/downloads of FSA/OWI image files placed on Flickr rose approximately 13%. 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. For additional information, see the Outcomes section in the full report.
Not only is that data good news about the project but being able to say “Hey when the Library of Congress opened up their photos to commenting and tagging, they only had to remove 25 inappropriate tags/comments out of 75K instances of user-generated content” thats a big deal.
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.
Between now and Sunday, April 27, Radical Reference invites you to suggest subject headings and/or cross-references which will then be compiled and sent to the Library of Congress. You can either choose one previously suggested by Sandy Berman (pdf or spreadsheet) or propose your own.
As someone who has been the recipient of Sandy Berman’s cc’s on letters to the LoC, I think this is a great idea. Still waiting for SEX TOY PARTIES and TRANSHUMANISM in my classification schemes, I am.
The Library of Congress is on Flickr! I am charmed by their profile. “Yes. We really are THE Library of Congress.” Update: please read this longer very well thought out essay about the project that does a lot more than just my “woo!” announcement.