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A Summer of Sharing

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We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we’d be playing a game called “What’s My Title?” at the National Book Festival (Sept. 22-23). I can testify that it was wildly successful–and great fun.

The "What's My Title?" game at the 2012 National Book Festival
The “What’s My Title?” game at the 2012 National Book Festival

Hundreds of people stopped by to look at the five popular photographs we mounted on a wall, and many accepted the challenge of suggesting an appropriate title. Proposed titles ran the gamut: descriptive, witty, lyrical, and wistful. Observers also enjoyed marking their favorite suggestions with colored dots or simply discussing the various suggestions. By the end of each day, our “What’s My Title” board was festooned with colorful suggestions and polka dots!

Many thanks to all who participated in person or virtually. We’ll feature some of the most heavily stickered titles in upcoming blog posts.

Bronwen Colquhoun at the 2012 National Book Festival
Bronwen Colquhoun at the 2012 National Book Festival

The “What’s My Title?” game was the third in a series of “summer of sharing” activities that we enjoyed collaborating on with researcher Bronwen Colquhoun, a British Research Councils Fellow from Newcastle University who was based in the Library’s Kluge Center for four months. Her investigation of community engagement with photographic collections took us down several new and exciting paths:

  • In July, we hosted a “meet-up” in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building, launching the activity by posting a selection of Carol M. Highsmith’s photographs of the building to Flickr as inspiration.  It proved to be a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow photography enthusiasts and to mutually marvel at the architectural wonders of the Jefferson Building and the technical challenges of photographing it. Attendees photographed the building and shared more than 600 images on Flickr using the tag “LOCMeetup2012” to enable people to find them.  We feature some of the wonderful photographs that resulted in LOC Meetup galleries on our Flickr account.
  • In August, we invited people to select ten favorite photographs from those we feature on Flickr, offering information about their selections through Flickr galleries.  More than twenty people took up the challenge, and we were fascinated by what caught their eyes and imaginations.
    Images in the "Your LOC Favorites" Library of Congress Flickr set
    Images in the “Your LOC Favorites” Library of Congress Flickr set

    We, in turn, formed a “Your LOC Favorites” Flickr set of the photographs that appeared in two or more galleries, along with links to all the individual galleries.  You’ll recognize some of the photos that appear in the set as the very ones we featured at the National Book Festival.

All of the sharing activities prompted us to look closer, to reflect more, and to appreciate the Library’s picture collections anew. We’re grateful to Bronwen for inspiring us to share images and the experience of looking at them in new ways, and we’re grateful to all who daily remind us how meaningful shared looking can be.

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