Flickr Accounts for Libraries

Flickr announced some revisions to their Community Guidelines today, the most important of which is to allow businesses, non-profits, and other organizations to have an account on Flickr. This is certainly good news for all the libraries who currently have Flickr accounts, who have really been operating outside of the terms, never a good idea. Flickr’s previous guidelines said that accounts were for individuals only, and specifically prohibiting organizational accounts. Flickr staff has always said that although an individual could set up an account and post their own photographs of their work with an organization, the account stayed with the person, not the organization. The only exception to this has been the Flickr Commons, a special program for museums and libraries sharing historical images.

Most libraries interested in sharing on Flickr have set up organizational accounts so it’s the library, not a specific individual, sharing the photographs, often unaware that this was contrary to the rules. An organizational account allows the library to post photographs taken by different staff members, and to have continuity through staff changes. The announcement notes that “There are many museums, charities, government offices and other organizations already using Flickr to share their stories with interested Flickr members around the world” and that the revisions “just bring the Community Guidelines up to date with how people are already using the site.”

Flickr has created a Best Practices page to help organizations get the most out of Flickr.

Here are my tips for getting the most from your Flickr account :

Setting Up Your Account

  • Take the time to become familiar with Flickr : Take the Tour, read the FAQ
  • Upgrade to Flickr Pro for unlimited uploading, access to your original photographs, and statistics
  • Be sure to add your logo or a photograph as the Buddy icon that identifies your account
  • Edit your Flickr profile page to include basic information about your library, links to the library website, etc.
  • Make sure you understand privacy and copyright settings
  • Upload at least five public photographs as soon as you set up your account. Your account will then be reviewed by Flickr and marked as “Safe.” Until this happens, your images will be visible but not searchable. It usually takes a few days for Flickr to review accounts.

Managing Your Account

  • Plan for continuity — be sure that login and password information is recorded somewhere safe so the library won’t lose access to the account even if the staff member currently running the account leaves the library.
  • Backup your photographs! You should never trust Flickr or any service with the only copy of your library photographs. Be sure you have at least one other copy. Ideally, you should have two copies, perhaps one on a hard drive and one on CD or DVD, as well as the copies on Flickr.

Photographs

  • Capture everyday life at the library as well as special events
  • Step outside for some exterior shots of the building and grounds, and include weather and seasonal pictures
  • Highlight every library service
  • Include the whole staff, volunteers, trustees, etc. (but respect the camera-shy!)
  • Have a plan and a policy for getting permission for taking pictures of patrons, especially children, and respect the right to privacy
  • Add historic images to Flickr, even if they are also in another archive
  • Add information and links to your image descriptions, and use the map and tags to help make your pictures findable

Sharing Your Photos

  • Use sets and collections to organize your photographs. These can be set up by time period, by department, by program, etc. The same photograph can be in more than one set.
  • Add your images to Flickr groups, especially the local and regional groups
  • Consider starting a Flickr group for your library or your community.
  • Use online toys and tools to enhance and transform your images (add frames, make posters, use special effects, etc.)
  • Use Flickr badges to add rotating content to your library sites
  • Link from your Flickr pages to your website, and from your library site to Flickr
  • Check your Flickr stats regularly, and report them with other library statistics

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