If like me, you get a kick out of old photography and ephemera—the thrill of looking through a window into the not-so-distant past—then you’ll share my excitement about the American Library of Congress/Flickr pilot project.
To set the scene, the Library of Congress is the national library of the United States, located in Washington, D.C.; Flickr is an internet success story: a photo-sharing site, where users can upload their own photographs, view others and comment on and tag ones that catch their interest. And a “tag” is a keyword assigned to a piece of information (a picture, a geographic map, a blog entry, a video clip etc.), describing the item and enabling keyword-based classification and search of information.
Here’s the skinny: The LoC has uploaded thousands of copyright-free images to Flickr, hoping that users will be able to tag them, and possibly add some insight to ones for which they have only partial information.
We want people to tag, comment and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo, which will benefit not only the community but also the collections themselves. For instance, 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.
From the announcement on the Library of Congress blog.
But the pictures themselves are the star of the show; it’s like rummaging through your grandparents’ attic, if you’re grandparents happened to have been globe-trotting vagabonds with an endless appetite for any and all interests and pastimes.
So when I rolled up my sleeves to dig in to the images, here’s the first one I see.
A shot from 1910 – 1912, of a ball player from my adopted hometown—in Canada. Too cool.
So if you want to check out the images yourself, and maybe even login to Flickr and add some info you might have, visit the LOC Flickr pages. And be prepared to kiss your afternoon goodbye.
You might also want to check out Shorpy.