Category Archives: Flickr Rocks My World

Web 2.0 & Libraries Parts 1 & 2 Available Free on Hyperlinked Library Site

I am happy to announce the full text of both of my ALA Library Technology Reports are available now at the new TTW companion site The Hyperlinked Library.

The rest of the site is currently under construction, but for now you’ll find:

Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software (2006) –

Web 2.0 & Libraries: Trends & Technologies (2007) –

Special thanks to my SJSU SLIS grad assistant Patrick Siebold who worked very hard the past few weeks inputting the content. I know the examples from ’06 and ’07 may seem out of date and quaint in some ways, but I’m very proud of the framework we used for the works back then. Conversations, Community, Connections, Collaborations – all those great C words Jenny Levine and I used throughout our early social software roadshows in 2005 & 2006 provide a useful context for looking at Web 2.0. I hope these works are still useful to some of you. Comments are open for adding more to the chapters and I plan on doing some types of updating as time permits.

The site will also serve my course Web sites and other items related to my teaching. 

Library Building Trading Cards?

Recently my sixth grade students have been working on a research project about our National Parks. One of their project choices was making a National Park trading card based on their research using this site:

I had a few directions written down for the students and they had no problems doing this without much assistance. After they created the card, they dragged it to their desktop. Then they doubleclicked on the image to open it full size and were able to print the card full size without all the other text on the website page. (We are on Macs, so I’m not sure how this will work on a PC, sorry.)

How about a set of Library Building Trading Cards to compliment all the wonderful librarian cards out there? Who has done this?

TTW Mailbox: Flickr Research Down Under

Dear Michael,
Leanne Perry and I want to find out how public libraries world wide are really using Flickr and were wondering if you would help up publicise our research so that we have as many public libraries responding as possible.  We are very happy to make the results available widely as well.
We want to find out how public libraries have planned and evaluated their use of Flickr to help other public libraries who are planning similar action. We are also explore public library expectations and strategic objectives for using Flickr, what the libraries have observed about their presence on Flickr, how Flickr relates to the other social networking tools they are using, what is the tagging, commenting, favouriting activity like and how the libraries have responded to the use of their images on Flickr.
The information gained from this survey will enable public libraries to plan more effectively for their presence via Flickr and how to use it with other web 2.0 developments.
The survey is available from here
and will take about 10 minutes to complete. The survey will be open until 7 March 2009.
The State Library of New South Wales is involved in the Commons ( The Public Library Services branch, where Leanne and Ellen work, has a Flickr account to showcase public library buildings (
For further information please contact Ellen [email protected] or Leanne [email protected]
Yours sincerely
Ellen Forsyth
Consultant, Public Library Services
State Library of New South Wales
Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Great stuff and exactly the type of data gathering and critical analysis we need!

Flickr & Libraries: A Response

Remember the Flickr & Libraries post? Here’s a great respoonse from a library director:

My point is that we have so much legalese that comes in that it cripples a library’s ability to operate in this way. You can’t put people’s picture on flickr because of their rights (even though they don’t care). It’s no wonder that libraries can often seem faceless or uncaring. All the legal makes it so you can’t do very much or you violate someone’s privacy. Libraries are afraid to use a patron’s email to let them know about an event at the library or services they may be interested in. The only pictures we can use are of the building or inanimate objects. The only video can be of library staff. I understand the privacy issue. However, the LIBRARY is faceless as a result.

Jeff Scott is the Library Director for the City of Casa Grande Public Library in Casa Grande, Arizona. He is also the president of the Pinal County Library Federation, a consortium of 13 public libraries.

Legally, should Libraries NOT be Using Flickr?


Inside by the Fire courtesy of Lester Public Library

That’s Gil. He’s enjoying the newspaper and the fire at Lester Public Library. The cliché says a picture is worth a thousand words but I must agree that the story this picture tells about what patrons will find at LPL is pretty darn priceless.

With this in mind, have you seen “Laws for Using Photos You Take at Your Library” by Bryan Carson?

Carson covers the best ways to use photographs taken at library events and in the library for promotion:

It is clearly a violation of the right of publicity to use photographs from library programs in order to market or advertise the library or to call attention to future programming. You should always get written consent if you plan to use images for these purposes. If the subject is under 18, the parent or guardian should sign a consent form.

One way to get around this problem is to take photos that don’t include identifiable people. For example, you could take a picture of the crowd from the back of the room. That way, you won’t have to worry about being able to see faces.

The law is a bit more lenient toward pictures that are published in a newspaper or library newsletter. Because the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, news media may publish names, likenesses, and images as long as they are part of a “newsworthy context.”9 (Even news media are forbidden from using photos or other images for commercial purposes.)

This adds much to the conversation that the Librarian in Black also covered a while ago. This is the bit that I got hung up on: (emphasis mine)

A library’s newsletter qualifies as news media. Online blogs and “recent events” websites are also considered to be “news.” However, the photographs should only be posted for a limited amount of time. (One source suggests no longer than 2 weeks.10) Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites create new issues. The problem is the limited amount of time that “news” images can be posted online without requesting permission from the subject. The right of publicity applies equally to blogs, websites, and social networking sites. So I do not recommend using Flickr or other such sites to archive photographs. It is important to be sure that you are really doing a “news” story on the event that just occurred rather than promoting future programs.

If I understand this correctly – and I must confess that reading too much legalese makes my brain shut down – this is the gist:

If you are using Flickr in your library to create an extension of the library’s Web presence and share the vibrancy, excitement and story of the library via photos of programs, activities, events, spaces and faces, you need to have permission for all subjects that are identifiable to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit. And they must not be archived as “news.” And it might be best not to use Flickr (is it implied that the other sites are off limits too?).

This perturbs me: in this age of user-generated everything live on the Web and libraries spending staff time and resources to create online presence in this emerging landscape, why are we creating roadblocks centered around laws created/discussed in the late 1800s and early 1900s?  And pictures of the back of heads would get old very quickly on the library web site. I want to see the people who make up the library, not someone’s french twist.

Carson goes on to outline how libraries can design photo releases and archive them. The details are well-presented and well-researched – and cited.

I certainly believe we should acknowledge and respect people’s privacy, but I also think using Flickr (and Facebook, MySpace, blogs, etc) are part of a new landscape of participation and inclusion. The law needs to catch up with these tools. I would hate to see any libraries stop using Flickr because of fears of a lawsuit – which in libraryland gets bantered around to much as a reason to NOT do a whole lot of things.

I love what Hennepin County did with their Harry potter promotion. The online form is the photo release. I wish it could be this easy in public to collect photo releases. I just hate the thought of asking every single person at some of the events and in the wonderful libraries I’ve highlighted here on TTW to sign off or for the teens to get mom and dad’s permission.

More here:

Carson’s conclusion:

If you plan to utilize images with identifiable people for public relations, marketing, or promotional purposes, always use a written consent form. (Oral consent is worth the paper it is written on.) If the subject is under the age of 18, be sure to get a signature from a parent or guardian. You don’t need permission to run a story about a recent event in your newsletter or on your blog. However, the story really has to be about the program, not just a promotion for the next event. And check with your institutional attorney or records manager to find out how long you need to retain the signed forms.

Librarians who follow these principles and receive advice from records managers and attorneys should be safe from lawsuits. That’s the goal of your attorney and of this article.

I think the goals of extending  the library and promoting the community trumps that one, but I am not an attorney, nor do I play one TV. I think the context goes way beyond what is immediate “news” to the library and to its community – public, academic, etc. Henry Jenkins notes we are all now creators and participants in media, not just passive viewers/readers. How does the publicity law apply to this permutation?

I’ve promoted libraries and Flickr for years. Jenny Levine  and I included it in the Conversation, Community etc. Roadshows back in 2006. I look to some innovative libraries using Flickr well as evidence that it is working. For example, take a look at Lester Public Library’s Flickr page and then check out their “Patron Privacy Policy” (updated July 2008):

“Photos and videos that appear on the library’s website may be gathered from public programs, events, and library spaces. Photos, images and videos submitted by users for online galleries or contests may also be used by the Library for promotional purposes. To ensure the privacy of individuals and children, images will not be identified using full names or personal identifying information without written approval from the photographed subject, parent or legal guardian.”

Works well for me! Thanks to Jeff Dawson, LPL director who shared the statement with me as I was writing this. It covers the bases as far as I can tell without being over the top.

I’d also like to know about other libraries that have made this work – and that might have forward thinking attorneys who are exploring what it means to create a chronicle of participation in the library, not just report the “news.” I advocate for social tools in libraries and I want to make sure my thinking is where it should be.

There has to be some new middle ground – blanket photo permissions for public events at the library, posted notices that photos will be taken, etc. I am not well-versed in the law – and that’s why I do appreciate the issue this article addresses, but I need to understand this more and would love to hear from folks out there.

This doesn’t seem that different from what libraries have always done: collections of community photos, a history collection, etc. Why does the online social component make it weird? 

My gut tells me there is a legal, useful place for this type of engagement online and US law needs to catch up sooner than later. Hiding behind a fear of a lawsuit might do more harm than good to many libraries that want to extend presence.

Video Games on Tour @ the Library

!, originally uploaded by capemaycountylibrary.

Justin Hoenke writes:

I’m the teen librarian at the Cape May County Library here in Cape May Court House, NJ.

I put together a “video games on tour at the library” event at our library that’s going on this week and so far it’s been really successful. We’ve had people of all ages coming out to test games at the library…it has been great!

Here are some photos!

Summer Reading – My READ Poster

From Spider Lake, just three of the books I devoured this summer. Thanks ALA!

Please make your own and put it on Flickr. I can’t wait to see everyone’s choices…

Via Jenny:

One of the fun projects I’ve gotten to shepherd at work is now available for you to play with – the READ Mini Poster Generator. It’s just like the generators on fd’s Flickr Toys because it was created by John Watson, Mr. fd himself. Choose from one of four templates and just click the button to upload a picture from your hard drive. (One hint – leave some room above your head in the picture.)

Useful for web badges, profile pictures, and especially graphics for events such as Banned Books Week (which is coming up in September). If you post yours to Flickr, be sure to add it to the READ posters pool. Here’s my first one, but I’m more interested to see how creative everyone else is. I have a series of posters planned. :-)

More Flickr Partners

Via Open Access News:

New partners for Flickr Commons

The George Eastman House and the Bibliothèque de Toulouse have joined Flickr Commons and will provide OA to some of their images there. (Thanks to Boing Boing.)

The Biblioteca de Arte-Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian is also providing access to part of its collection on Flickr, though not as part of Flickr’s The Commons project. The images are available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license (images in the Commons are in the public domain). (Thanks to Patrick Peccatte.)