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.
Most of the postcards, as you might expect, are pictures of mountains, parks, beaches, churches, libraries, schools and historic points of interest. There are a lot of old-fashioned holiday cards which could be useful as a source for designers and craftspeople. There are all sorts of other postcards which can be really interesting in terms of social history, including some offensive ethnic cartoons that are shocking in their casual cruelty.
Although of course the focus here is on selling postcards, they’ve added a lot of options to encourage people to use and share these images. There are RSS feeds for every category, and options to send these as e-cards, download them and add comments. There are also options to post them on webpages and forums, with copy-and-paste code provided for different sizes and different types of sites. As you can see in the Revere Beach example below, the cards are marked with the CardCow.com logo and linked back to the CardCow website, which seems fair. I think it’s interesting to see a commercial site like this that’s more interactive and social than most library digital library projects. This is definitely the direction I think libraries need to go with our collections, providing ways for people to do more with our images than just looking at them.