The Flickr Commons is celebrating an amazing five years since its inception and The Library of Congress have been organising activities to commemorate the anniversary. I would highly recommend a browse through the galleries the LOC have created, which feature the top-viewed, or most-favourited, or most-commented on photographs submitted by the Commons members.
Flickr is one of the ways that allow us to make parts of our collections accessible to users who might not be able to visit us. It also helps promote them in a different way and hopefully reach people who might not think to look to us for their needs. We have been on Flickr as Commons members for nearly four years now and have uploaded just over 1,300 pictures to our account. Many of our uploads were part of the LSE: A History in Pictures project and give an insight into both special and everyday moments in the history of the LSE. Other uploads include 19th century political posters, Soviet posters (childcare and political) and the images from the social documentary book ‘Street Life in London’. Last summer I also finished adding out of copyright images and those with no known copyright restrictions that we have scanned from our collections and we will continue to add more that we scan on an ad-hoc basis.
I find it fascinating to see which images are popular with users and inspire comments, “favorites” and the addition of tags. As participators in the Flickr Commons project we encourage users to add to our descriptions of the images with comments and tags. In terms of views, the top 25 most-viewed images list is dominated by the ‘Street Life…’ photographs, although Nelson Mandela gets a look-in at #9. Peculiarly, ‘The Street Locksmith’ and its accompanying extract describing the moral ethics of making keys, is our most-viewed image, clocking up over 8,500 views. Ignoring the ‘Street Life…’ images, other highly-viewed images include runners at an early LSE sports day, Sidney Webb reading at Bryans Ground, Library Staff in the 1990s and Edmund Dene Morel (with his fabulous moustache).
Flickr users can add other photos on the site as their favourites and then see them all in one place via their profile. This would seem a more assertive representation of popularity than the amount of views a picture has and it is interesting to see that the list of our photos most-“favourited” by others is also dominated by the ‘Street Life…’ images, but provides a little more variety. London Nomades is the in the #1 spot with 60 people adding it as a favourite; ‘Progressive and Moderate – The Motive Spirit’, one of our London County Council election posters, at #4 with 45 people adding it as a favourite and Student Union Officer Kathleen Libby at #7 with 26 people adding it as a favourite.
Making our images available like this is a really rewarding way of sharing our collections with a much wider audience than they would get sitting in the files in our strongroom. It also allows for interesting user interaction in a way that someone looking at a photograph in the reading room might not encourage. So please feel free to spend some time on our Flickr photostream, browsing, reading descriptions, commenting, tagging and favouriting.
For more celebrations from the participating institutions, check out the discussions thread in the Flickr Commons group.