I did a presentation on this topic at the Massachusetts Library Association conference in Falmouth this morning, and posted the PowerPoint on Slideshare:
The Library of Congress collections on Flickr have gotten a lot of attention and activity since its launch on January 16. Flickr reported on their blog that in the first twenty-four hours after the launch, users added about 19,000 tags and just over 500 comments. The Library of Congress reported on their blog that all 3,100 + photographs had been viewed, with over 650,000 photo views in total as of the evening of January 17.
The Library of Congress and Flickr have a new pilot project called The Commons. Photographs from two of the American Memory collections, 1930s-40s in Color and News in the 1910s, a total of over 3,000 images.
The first set consists of photographs taken for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) between 1939 and 1944 and focus on rural areas and farm labor, and World War II mobilization, including factories, railroads, aviation training, and women working, and these records have some descriptive and subject information that’s been carried over to Flickr. The other collection, New in the 1910s, are news photographs from the Bain News Service, taken in about 1910-1912, and there’s minimal information for these.
There are thousands of library photographs on Flickr, some taken by librarians to show off their buildings and services or highlight their collections, some taken by members of the public. There are beautiful architectural shots, pictures of kids listening to stories, playing with puppets, or doing crafts. There are pictures of shelves of DVDs and displays of books, pictures taken outside the library looking in, and inside the library looking out, pictures of librarians and pictures of library cats, pictures of people studying and people sleeping. There are pictures of all types of libraries, all over the world.
In order to collect a variety of library photographs to use as examples in working with librarians using Flickr, I decided to start saving my favorites on del.icio.us, using the tag libraryflickrfaves. Feel free to look at my selection here : Library Flickr Faves
The staff of the Chelmsford Public Library participated in the The Gingerbread Express: A Train Runs Through It… a Gingerbread Village Display to Support Greater Lowell Habitat for Humanity. They created two buildings, the great, edible version of the original Adams Library shown here, and also the McKay Branch. The Gingerbread Village will be on display at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chelmsford on December 1 and 2.
The hottest story in the library world right now may be Maricopa County Arizona’s new Perry Branch, which is arranged according to BISAC Subject Headings, the same system used by bookstores (including Amazon, etc.). This has gotten a lot of attention in both the library world (lists, blogs, etc.) and beyond, including a piece on NPR called Arizona Library Shuns Dewey System. The discussion has been very interesting, with a mix of strong opinions, pro and con.
Whether our collections are organized according to Dewey, LC, or some other system, I do think most libraries need to work on ways to make it easier for users to walk in our doors and find what they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. I think some of the frustrations with library catalogs (ours and everyone else’s) are exacerbated by the fact that people need to use these systems way too often, far more often than they need to use the computers in the more browseable bookstores.
If someone walks into your library looking for the dog books or books about the Civil War or a book of Robert Frost’s poetry or books on wallpapering or Linux or resumes or Renoir or Chinese, how do they do it? How long does this take, and how does their experience compare with doing these same tasks in the local Borders or Barnes and Noble?