Photo sharing websites allow individuals and groups to reach many more people than they would through their own website or publicly-accessible storage system. High-profile web-hosted access like Flickr raises awareness that special collections such as ours exist, promotes their use, allows people to participate in identifying aspects of the photographs, and is an important part of community outreach for the Library and Archive.
The Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library's Flickr photostream helps us tell the Metro story through the power of visual images. But Flickr is not just a place for people to upload their photographs for free. It has become the world’s preeminent photo hosting website, growing to nearly 4 billlion images since its inception in 2003. This requires powerful and exciting ways to organize large collections of photos, which in turn changes the nature of research, resource sharing, and information discovery. We have simplified both browsing and searching for photos by organizing them in broader collections as well as topic-oriented sets.
Using Flickr not only dramatically increases the number of people who can see our unique collection, it utilizes many social networking tools such as keyword tags (metadata) which leads users to other photos having the same tags.
Since we began uploading photos to Flickr, users have come forward to identify individual in the photos, locations where photos were taken, and provided information about events, equipment, and other historical facts. Users can then see others’ comments, thereby promoting dialogue and learning while everyone benefits from the growth in information about images.
Another exciting Flickr feature is “geotagging,” the use of geographical identification about where a photo was taken, which helps users find location-specific information. We geotag uploaded photos to create a map depicting where individual photos in our collection were taken. This enables researchers to quickly locate all visual information about a particular area regardless of variations or changes in street names, neighborhoods, etc. The new generation of smartphones equipped with GPS allows users to take photos and immediately upload them to Flickr with automatically-generated geotagging. This practice will become increasingly commonplace in the near future, allowing visual content to be shared, accessed, and enhanced almost anytime and anywhere.
Flickr photos can also be saved in more than one photo set, so users have a better chance of finding relevant images whether they are searching for a topic, location, or time period. We also link to others’ photographs on Flickr that pertain to Metro and our predecessor agencies. As more libraries, museums, archives, historical associations, and cultural legacy organizations share their photographic collections via the Web, we enrich the experience of searching for information related to transportation history in the Los Angeles area.
For higher resolution images (TIFF format) than those found on Flickr, please contact the Library.
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Our historic legacy of photographs, manuscripts, and other items document the important and unique role of transportation in Southern California history and culture
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