Monday, March 30, 2009

CIL2009: Flickr Commons for Libraries and Museums

As I tweeted earlier, CIL is not only a very worthwhile event, but it is like a family reunion! The conversations have been wonderful and they are occurring everywhere. (If someone is looking for a quiet corner, there aren't any.) 10 us -- librarians and library trainers -- did lunch at Matsutake Sushi and the conversation was as good as the food.

The next session I'm attending is on the Flickr Commons.

Michelle Springer:
The Flickr Commons is comprised of digital objects where there are no known copyright restrictions. A growing number of ibraries and museums are joining the commons. People can get to the Commons through several links on Flickr. Many people have learned, though, about the Commons via Flickr's blog as well as word of mouth.

indicommons has been created to make the Commons better known.
Shelly Bernstein:
From the Brooklyn Museum. Have been on Flickr since 2006. Once the Commons came into being, they saw it has been a wonderful addition to their presence on Flickr.

The Commons, at first, was very overwhelming. However, once a group got started on Flickr that was associated with the Commons, they found it less overwhelming and could see a community building. Users are engaged around the materials. People are researching the materials and adding information. People are adding their expertise - expertise that the Museum may not have. They find that they are now working with the community.

They have also been able to get feedback and input from the Commons community. The Commons community has also done troubleshooting for them. She called them "amazingly helpful".
Michelle Springer:
From the Library of Congress. Power commenters. They provide missing information and provide links to research that backs them up. Some people are able to add personal memories/experiences to the photographs. Able to connect with specialized experts.

They find notes to be problematic. While they can be helpful, people may also use them to add humor.

Sometimes people talk about titles of photographs and historical context, like the photo above with is entitled "Negro Boy". The title says something about the time when it was taken and historical context.
Josh Greenberg:
From the New York Public Library. Realized that they needed to meet users where the users are. User engagement isn't just something a few staff members can do.

Said it took 10 months to sign a contract with the Flickr Commons. There are many rights that they had to discuss about the images and their use. They went with images that were representative of the collection as a whole. When they joined, they had not decided who owned the user interaction. they needed to bring the curators into the discussion. They found that they had not grappled with the ownership questions related to who owns this project internally and especially the user interaction.

This is about community engagement.
Martin Kalfatovic:
From the Smithsonian Institute. More of a social experiment in their own community than a technology problem. What happens between a photo being in a Smithsonian collection and the photo being on Flickr?

And to spend a lot of time with a lawyer getting through the "legal weeds".

They contributed photos of scientists and inventors. Flickr thought there would not be an interest in men with mustaches, but the photos have been very popular. They have added many photos since then, including micro photographs of fish. Have found that they have to often convince in-house people that people will want to see these various photos.

To get started, you just need a small group of like-minded people. Once you get some stuff out and positive feedback coming back, more in the institution will want to get involved.
Notes from the Q&A:

The Flickr Commons is part of Flickr, which is part of Yahoo. There are institutions that are waiting to get into the Flickr Commons. There is a legal process, then there is stuff Yahoo/Flickr needs to do to bring an institution on board. These are institutional accounts that live in a framework that was built for individual accounts.

Flickr has also created "associated" accounts, which sounds like sub-accounts on a master (institutional) account.

The materials in the Flickr Commons are labeled "no known copyright restrictions". That means that the institution that owns the photographs cannot exert any rights on the materials. (Nor can anyone else.)

Third party rights have to do with privacy and publicity rights, which is something NYPL discussed before working with the Flickr Commons. They have created language to attach to the photos that addresses those rights.

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