The number of libraries, museums, and other organizations that are putting their historic photos on Flickr is growing. Add to that number the New York Public Library. As it turns out, these organizations are part of a larger Flickr endeavor called The Commons. This includes the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, Brooklyn Museum, and Eastman House, among others.
But back to the New York Public Library…
The collection is quite diverse. There are some Civil War photographs, photos from Ellis Island, and photos of the dustbowl from the Farm Service Administration. This one collection alone is worth hours of browsing. I hope that NYPL begins geotagging their images, because it would be fascinating to see these placed on a map.
The purpose of The Commons is not only make a public treasure readily available online, but to solicit commentary from the public. The hope is that a wikipedia-like effect will take place and that beneficial comments will outweigh the dreck.
The Commons is the brainchild of George Oates. Unfortunately, Oates was just fired from Yahoo as part of their downsizing. In his blog, Oates discusses the firing, and wonders about the future of the Commons project. I hope that Yahoo does see fit to continue this project.
The happy news is that other groups are seeing the benefit of the Commons concept. Google is making steps in the right direction with its agreement to host the photos in the Life collection. The biggest difference is that Google doesn’t solicit commentary on the photos. I guess one of the reasons is that the photos in the Google collection are much more well-known. These photos also tend to have more restrictions on their use.
Still, I’m glad to see companies like Flickr and Google making these wonderful resources available.
[tags]Flickr, Yahoo, Google, Life Images, Google Images, The Commons, New York Public Library[/tags]