I’ve finally got round to signing Special Collections up as a contributor to Flickr Commons. I decided to do this as a direct result of John Coburn’s presentation at Northern Exposure: I was wowed by the response of users to the fantastic collections of images on the Commons from Tyne and Wear Archives: great visitor numbers, plenty of comments and interaction, and increased requests for commercial use. It seems that Commons deliver such results better than using regular Flickr.
I didn’t rush into this, because I wanted to reflect and make sure we could commit to sharing regularly via this site. While many of our wonderful photographs are not eligible for Flickr Commons, there are plenty that are either University copyright or definitely out of copyright; many are already digitised and ready to load: University history, Yorkshire Dales, J.B. Priestley’s early years … I’m really looking forward to getting these photos out there for anyone to access, enjoy and comment on if they choose.
The Commons will save staff and enquirers a lot of time, acting as a showcase for images. We aren’t able to justify or afford the sort of image management software that libraries with huge photo collections desirable to publishers might acquire. For Special Collections at Bradford, the Commons has many advantages: free, open, visible to all, and simple.
There are risks of course. Flickr may cease to exist! Or change its practices. However, we can live with that risk in order to get this exposure. I’m also going to put many of these images in Facebook albums: I suspect these will reach different audiences, but we shall see.