Building Bridges through the Flickr Commons

Last week we celebrated eight years of sharing Library of Congress pictures on the photosharing site, Flickr, by posting there one spectacular bridge photo each day for eight days.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2012. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.21132.

Flickr Commons Anniversary Day 1: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2012. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.21132. View in Flickr

The castle and bridge, Pau, Pyrenees, France. Photochrom print, between ca. 1890 and 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.05322.

Flickr Commons Anniversary Day 3: The castle and bridge, Pau, Pyrenees, France. Photochrom print, between ca. 1890 and 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.05322. View in Flickr

Lion Bridge, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1936 or 1937. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/csas.00448

Flickr Commons Anniversary Day 8: Lion Bridge, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1936 or 1937. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/csas.00448. View in Flickr

Why bridges? Because, when we began sharing photos in Flickr back in 2008, the Library of Congress also joined with Flickr to launch The Commons, which has grown to connect historical and contemporary photographs from more than 100 different archives, libraries and museums all over the world.

Far-flung though our institutions may be, I had only to look next door to find out just what an impact that initial experiment had. Our new curator of architecture, design and engineering, Mari Nakahara, upon hearing about the Flickr Commons anniversary, noted that she has been a fan of the project for many years:

When the Flickr Commons project was implemented, I was learning about Web 2.0 while working towards a Master of Library of Science. I picked the Flickr Commons as my school project, read through the reports, and frequently looked at the site. I found it a powerful tool for people to participate in sharing their knowledge internationally. Since then, I have been broadly introducing Flickr Commons to people, especially those in the academic field in Japan, my country of origin.

Sharing Library of Congress photos with the international community on Flickr has enabled us to benefit from local knowledge about places and events depicted in photographs from many collections, including our Photochrom Travel Views, the Russian Empire in Color, and News in the 1910s.

Participating in the Flickr Commons has given us the added pleasure of seeing the connections among pictures housed in widely dispersed collections. Flickr members helped point out particularly close relationships between our collections and those of the National Library of Ireland. When we posted the photochrom image below on the left, Flickr members pointed out the corresponding negative at the right in the National Library of Ireland’s Flickr account.

Glenariff. County Antrim, Ireland. Photochrom, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.09830

Glenariff. County Antrim, Ireland. Photochrom, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.09830.  View in Flickr.

Unidentified = Glenariff, Co. Antrim, 1900? National Library of Ireland, Ref.: L_CAB_05022

Unidentified = Glenariff, Co. Antrim, 1900? National Library of Ireland, Ref.: L_CAB_05022. View in Flickr.

And when the National Library of Ireland posted the photo below at the left, a Flickr member spotted a photochrom based on it in our collections (below right).

Albert Memorial in Belfast at 14:25.  Photo by Robert French, after 1905, National Library of Ireland, Ref.: L_NS_01920

Albert Memorial in Belfast at 14:25. Photo by Robert French, after 1905, National Library of Ireland, Ref.: L_NS_01920. View in Flickr

Albert Memorial. Belfast. County Antrim, Ireland. Photochrom, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900 (or after 1905!). //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002717365/.

Albert Memorial. Belfast. County Antrim, Ireland. Photochrom, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900 (or after 1905!). //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002717365/. View in Flickr

Another eagle-eyed Flickr member spotted parallel views of a street in Christinia, Norway among the Library of Congress photochroms and a later postcard view from the Nasjonalbiblioteket (National Library of Norway).

Carl Johans Gade with Slotted (i.e., Slottet), Christinia, Norway. Photochrom, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.06114

Carl Johans Gade with Slotted (i.e., Slottet), Christinia, Norway. Photochrom, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.06114. View in Flickr

8. Kristiania. Karl Johansgt. Postkort. Nasjonalbiblioteket, bldsa_PK00862

8. Kristiania. Karl Johansgt. Postkort. Nasjonalbiblioteket, bldsa_PK00862. View in Flickr

In honor of the Flickr Commons anniversary, we invited Flickr members to tag eight Commons favorites with “Happy Birthday Flickr Commons,” and to make galleries of images they have enjoyed. I couldn’t resist embarking on a personal anniversary odyssey, surveying photographs of bridges in other Flickr Commons institutions. I’m holding myself down to highlighting two that caught my eye–okay, three:

I just loved the shape of this one:

The Fourth  [i.e., Forth] Bridge. Photo from the Edwin Newman Collection, San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Iraq_00811

The Fourth [i.e., Forth] Bridge. Photo from the Edwin Newman Collection, San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Iraq_00811. View in Flickr

This one reminded me how much can lie below a bridge–don’t look down!

Trestle below Gouin's House on Fraser River, BC. Photo by Charles MacMunn, about 1885. Notman Photographic Archives, Musée McCord Museum, MP-0000.600.29.

Trestle below Gouin’s House on Fraser River, BC. Photo by Charles MacMunn, about 1885. Notman Photographic Archives, Musée McCord Museum, MP-0000.600.29. View in Flickr

And this one prompted me to ponder the historic events that have taken place on bridges the world over.

The Bridge, Athlone. Photo by W.D. Hogan, Saturday, 25 February 1922, National Library of Ireland, HOGW 54

The Bridge, Athlone. Photo by W.D. Hogan, Saturday, 25 February 1922, National Library of Ireland, HOGW 54. View in Flickr. The National Library of Ireland’s comment: “soldiers marching across the bridge in Athlone for the handover of Custume Barracks – just one of the many barracks around the country to move from British to Irish control in 1922. “

Bridging the photo collections in The Commons has helped us make new friends, exchange information, and build knowledge across oceans and continents. On to year nine!

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