The Library of Congress tests the waters of Web 2.0
By James Grahame
The United States Library of Congress has partnered with the immensely popular flickr photo sharing site. The goal is to increase the profile of their archive of over 14 million prints, photos and other visual materials (and to demonstrate that government collections can be surprisingly cool).
This is a groundbreaking arrangement for several reasons. It's the first time the Library has cooperated with a civic institution to dramatically increase the profile of the archives. Over a million of their archive images have been available online for a decade, but the average web user isn't likely to spend much time snooping around the stodgy Library of Congress site.
Making everything available on flickr increases the opportunity for Web 2.0-savvy young whippersnappers to stumble upon the images in their searches and discover the magical allure of historical photographs. There's also a chance that the public will be able to contribute meaningful tags and background information which will enrich the collection in a collaborative manner.
And, as an added bonus, all of the images uploaded to flickr by the Library of Congress have "no known copyright restrictions," so you're free to use them as you wish.