NLI on the Flickr Commons
Since 2010, the National Library of Ireland has been sharing images from its collection of 5.2 million photographs through Flickr, a photo-hosting site.
In 2011, NLI joined a dedicated section of Flickr, The Flickr Commons, and started sharing images from our collections with no known copyright restrictions with the general public. Together with more than a hundred other national libraries, archives, and museums, we continue to share our photographic collections with a far-reaching online audience through the Flickr Commons. Flickr users give freely and generously of their time to help us to identify key information about them.
One photograph is generally shared each weekday, and there are now more than 3,500 (and counting) photographs on the NLI Flickr Commons photo-stream for the public to investigate, add context to or simply enjoy. Since 2011, we estimate that there have been more than 111 million views of the photographs. From all corners of Ireland and further afield, a range of volunteer researchers have contributed an astonishing 70,000 comments that help to enrich understanding of the images. This research feeds back into the National Library of Ireland’s catalogue, enhancing what is already known about the collection of photographs in our care.
Our researchers have identified people and places, narrowed date ranges, and uncovered personal stories from both the commonplace and exceptional scenes depicted in these photographs. The engagement that has resulted from these posts has been the most rewarding part of the entire project and has helped us to fulfil the NLI’s core mission ‘to collect, protect and make accessible the recorded memory of Ireland’.
A small, dedicated group of volunteers, with support from NLI staff, select the photographs, put them in context and upload them to the NLI Flickr Commons account. They also monitor comments and queries from the users who interact with the photographs. The Flickr community, in turn, contribute information based on their own knowledge, expertise or research. A wide range of reputable sources are frequently consulted to ensure high standards of accuracy, including online sources such as census records, historical databases, books, newspapers or oral sources from families or communities. Occasionally, users have even been known to clamber through fields in an effort to determine the exact location of a photograph.
We welcome your involvement and engagement to keep the project going. We invite users to first explore the NLI Flickr photo-stream to get a sense of how we currently go about researching each photo. If you do not wish to make any comments, then please feel free to simply enjoy the images and follow the stories they uncover. But if you wish to become more involved, or if you want to contribute some information, ask a question or add a comment, then just set up a free Flickr account, and join in the conversation…
Visit the National Library of Ireland Flickr Commons page here.
Registering for a free Flickr account will enable you to post comments.