reduce, reuse, re-picture

Bridge Redux Part II

Originally uploaded by

Moving across the pond, so to speak, we find ourselves down under, at the Flickr pool for something called Re-Picture Australia.  This project allows Flickr users to take public domain images of all things “australiana” from the National Library, and remix, mash-up and generally “2.0” them into something new.  Users then title and tag their images for them to be available for display in both the Flickr pool as well as on the National Library’s project site.

This is but one part of a large project undertaken by the National Library of Australia entitled “Picture Australia.”  Essentially the National Library and many other institutions have submitted photographs to the project to be displayed in a giant, centralized digital repository. It is an ambitious project to be sure, and the thing I like about this is that they are throwing in user-submitted images right next to the institutional images. Talk about a two-way street!

As I mentioned above, this is a project of many parts.  The central core of Picture Australia consists of a group of institutional images collected from across Australia.  Jargon alert: they have a harvester that collects images and metadata, converts it to XML, and then adds them to the central repository. The service guide is available here.

Aside from the institutional images, the free-thinking folks at Picture Australia have opened up their contributing process to include the general public.  It works like this (jargon free this time): you upload a picture you think is appropriate to Flickr and add it to a Picture Australia group.  Then they come around the group something like once a week and takes all the new images and adds them right into the site, alongside all the images from libraries, archives and museums.  Makes a user feel right special, doesn’t it? Check it out below:

Now thats Library 2.0!
Now that's Library 2.0!

Picture Australia has three Flickr groups going right now:


Like the Library of Congress, the National Library of Australia has a number of other digital collections and so this Picture Australia project and its associated Flickr presence supplements and enhances those existing services well.  Unlike LOC, however, Picture Australia is listed proudly on the front page as a “Collection.” One click and you’re there, ready to learn.

They also outline directions for how to submit fairly well, even for non-Flickr users.  Instead of deferring completely to Flickr’s own instructions on how to use their service, Picture Australia writes up their own fairly detailed description.  It doesn’t necessarily assume any prior Flickr use, but it does get into the idea of Creative Commons licensing and tagging, which requires fairly high-level knowledge. On the other hand, if you are considering contribution, I would assume that you have a fair amount of knowledge around photo editing and sharing software anyway.

All in all, this is a great, complex and fun use of Flickr for a library.  Obviously there are some serious resources being put forward here by the National Library, and I understand that this is not a normal or feasible undertaking for most libraries.  However, it does demonstrate the extraordinary potential available for libraries to get serious and productive use out of web 2.0 technologies. Full speed ahead, I say.


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