START Conference Manager    

ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012 

Exploring Digital Information Using Tags and Local Knowledge
Margaret E. I. Kipp, Olha Buchel and Diane Neal

Monday, 6:30pm


In early 2008, the Library of Congress (LC) posted a series of historical photographs from its collection to Flickr (, a photo sharing and social tagging service, with the dual intentions of increasing public awareness of their collections and engaging with the web2.0 community. In late 2008, LC published a report on the initial results of their experiment. They noted that there had been over 10.4 million views of their collection, 79% of photographs had been 'favorited', 7166 comments had been made on 2873 photos by 2562 unique Flickr accounts, and 67176 tags had been assigned by 2518 unique Flickr accounts (Springer et al., 2008). LC reported that the project had been a success and noted their intention to continue to expand the collection.

This paper describes a pilot study examining user-contributed metadata associated with the Library of Congress Flickr project in conjunction with the Library of Congress' more traditional metadata records. We collected all records from the LC Flickr Project which contained subject headings for the pilot study. These records were examined using basic descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis techniques to determine similarities and differences between the user-contributed and traditional metadata, specifically in the areas of tag usage, comment contents, and associated notes. We discovered that many users were contributing local and personal knowledge to the Flickr records.