Sixteen years of Flickr Commons

Today is a big day for Flickr Commons – it’s our 16th birthday! 🎉 🎂

Since January 2008, the Flickr Commons has been a place for cultural heritage organizations to share their unique historical photography collections with a global community of people interested in visual culture, and see how Flickr volunteer researchers can add knowledge and new descriptions to them.

Flickr Commons has grown to include over 100 members in 24 countries, amassing roughly 1.5 million pictures on over the past 16 years. And from today you can now delve into all of the organizations who’ve contributed to this vast historical resource in our new, dedicated Flickr Commons Explorer! Not only can you see which organizations take part in the Commons, but also the scale and scope of their collections. Have a look around and let us know how it can be more useful to you!

We’re celebrating in other ways too:

🎈For one day only, we’re taking over Flickr’s Explore page with photos from the Commons (with thanks to Josie and Crystal in the .com team)

Celebrating Flickr Commons 16th birthday with an Explore takeover!

🖼️ We’re featuring the stories of sixteen less well-known gems from the Flickr Commons collection

And no birthday is complete without looking back at the year that’s passed and the year ahead.

A woman blowing out the candles on her birthday cake
U.S. Marine wife Marge Brown blowing out the candles on her birthday cake, from State Archives of North Carolina.

2023: Spotlight on Flickr Commons

We’ve been working hard to breathe new life into the Flickr Commons program after a quiet period.

  • We welcomed Jessamyn West to the Flickr Foundation to look after the Flickr Commons as our Community Manager.
  • Alex Chan joined us as our Tech Lead. They’re building all the new tools to help Flickr Commons partners see inside their Commons collections and measure their impact.
  • We opened a ‘new front door’ for Flickr Commons, a way of exploring all of the Commons members in one place – have a look around!

(This is a screenshot showing you our four newest members, from the Flickr Commons Explorer.)

2024: Growing the Commons community

This year we’re continuing to reconnect with existing Commons members as well as opening the doors to new ones. We’re chuffed to share that we have our first new members coming online very soon: Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County (Ontario, Canada); State Archives of North Carolina (USA); and Port Morien Digital Archive (Nova Scotia, Canada).

You can meet our three newest members on the blog, and, if you’re a cultural institution with a photography collection, do consider joining in. We’d love to hear from you, and we’ve written about how Flickr Commons works and what it means to join.

Generally, we are working to make it easier for cultural organizations to use to easily reach a global audience of millions, especially smaller institutions. We’re planning to build tools that support joining the Flickr Commons. That includes resources and workflows for onboarding, member management, and engaging the community of volunteer researchers who use, comment and tag Commons photos. Expect these to be rolled out throughout this birthday year and beyond!

Data Lifeboat begins

We’re also starting a major project this year, called Data Lifeboat, and we’ve enlisted three staff from our Commons member institutions to help with user research: Dr Mia Ridge (Digital Curator, British Library), Alan Renga (Digital Archivist, San Diego Air & Space Museum), and Mary Grace Kosta (Congregational Archivist, Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada). Trevor Owens, who heads up Digital Preservation at Library of Congress, is also on the advisory board so that’s a nice virtuous circle right there since LC was the first Flickr Commons partner back in 2008.

We’re hiring!

We’re excited to announce that hiring our first-ever Archivist:

It’s a fundamental role at the Flickr Foundation, designed to help us archive ourselves for future team members, and, of course, help think through the challenge of keeping Flickr visible for 100 years.

If you or someone you know has experience in digital archives and/or visual archives, has a creative streak and a desire to work for a young technologically-oriented nonprofit, we’d love you to apply.

Celebrate with us!

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