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The New York Public Library has joined the The Commons, the special Flickr program for libraries and museums, who share their collections on Flickr and encourage members of the community to add comments and tags to help describe the images. The New York sets shared here include photographs of dance legend Ruth St. Denis, production photographs from early cinema, travel photographs from Egypt, Syria, Japan and other places, Civil War photographs, a large selection of Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York photographs from the 1930s, and more.
Two recent news stories caught my eye, quite literally. Each reported the discovery of a previously-unknown childhood photograph of a legendary American woman. The women couldn’t be more different : the notorious Lizzie Borden and the inspirational Helen Keller. In each case, the newly-discovered photographs give us a rare glimpse into the childhood of these women — in both cases, the new photographs may be the earliest known photographs of their subjects.
Yesterday I participated in the Digital Library Conference & Vendor Fair at Holy Cross, an event that celebrated the official launch of the Digital Commonwealth. The Digital Commonwealth is a portal providing access to the digital repositories of libraries and other cultural institutions around the state, soon to include NOBLE. The conference was a great success, with a diverse and enthusiastic group of participants.
The program featured keynote presentations by Mary Minow on copyright and Marshall Keys on the Digital Commonwealth and Library 2.0, and eleven break-out sessions on a various aspects of digital libraries.
This blog features old photographs of American life, with a special emphasis on the working life. There’s a special emphasis on child labor, especially as shown in the works of Lewis Hine. The site takes its name from Shorpy Higginbotham, a boy who worked in an Alabama coal mine near the turn of the century, and who appears in several of Hine’s photographs.
When I first came across this site a few months ago, I didn’t really get the point. There’s very little information on the source of the images, although it looks like most come from the Library of Congress, and all are in the public domain based on their age. If all of this is readily available with better cataloging and organization on the American Memory site, why bother with this oddly-named blog?
But I’ve come around. The blog’s format is attractive, with a few selected photographs featured every day. Members can set up their own accounts and contribute their own old photographs, and I’ve seen some interesting ones. There’s just enough organization here to invite browsing, and there’s an active community of users commenting on the photographs.
The real reason this site has become so successful is the photographs themselves. They are well-chosen, compelling images, presented in a nice, large format rather than as thumbnails. Who can resist? Libraries could really use this site as a model for ways to use a blog format to present content and invite discussion.
Shorpy: The 100-Year-Old Photoblog — Check it out for yourself
CardCow.com sells vintage postcards and collectibles, worth checking out if you’re interested in adding to your library’s postcard collection. But even if you don’t plan to buy anything, this can be a very interesting site, useful for reference and worth sharing with your users. They have a lot of postcards for sale, but even after a card is sold, the image and listing stay on the website as a resource, and they have built up quite an impressive collection of images. You can browse by category, or search the listings. The cataloging isn’t perfect — there are currently eight cards listed for Magnolia and five for Mangolia — but you can usually find what you’re looking for one way or another. They list the date if a card has a postmark, and include images of the backs of the postcards, which is a nice touch.