Library of Congress comes to Flickr

Acting on Flickr’s motto: “Share your photos, watch the world”

Helena Zinkham is acting chief of the Prints and Photography Division of the Library of Congress.  Seeing her dedication and passion for history and media as Robert Scoble interviewed her on Scobleizer TV was intriguing  – and comforting somehow, in these crazy days.

What struck me the most: her dedication to her institution as the antithesis of “dead libraries of stuff”.

Turns out the Library has consistently been an early adopter of new media : photographs in the mid 1800’s,  typewriters circa 1900, TV in the 1950’s, the internet in the 1990’s. 

Now it’s participating in Web 2.0 by putting historic photos on Flickr.  Why Flickr?  “Instead of trying to bringing people to the Library, we should go out and participate.”  Helena gets it! 

A core philosophy: represent their objects unaltered, and let other people be their own “Ansel Adams” and optimize the images as they see fit. Given a choice, the Library keeps high-resolution, uncompressed TIF images.  From that they make JPG for easy viewing and GIF for thumbnails.  That’s a lot of bytes per image!

Today there are close to 5,000 LOC images on Flickr – about .04% of the existing collection of 14 million objects. 

I think Flickr’s going to need to add some capacity.

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One response to “Library of Congress comes to Flickr

  1. Pingback: Supples’ Pub » Blog Archive » links for 2008-10-14

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