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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Rethinking Evaluation Metrics in Light of Flickr Commons


Flickr Commons launched in 2008 as a platform for enhancing the discoverability of cultural heritage collections and for allowing users to tag, annotate, and repurpose these materials. The Commons now boasts 46 members and tens of thousands of public domain images. The impact of the project has been monumental. Many of the institutions involved can boast hit counts on their Flickr images that far exceed other digital collections. While many of the numbers are certainly impressive, it can be argued that they are one of the least compelling statistics.

What, then, are the most meaningful statistics for a project that puts library collections in a highly visible space outside the library's traditional confines? Some of our standard and more established metrics, such as hit counts, only illuminate a small part of the story – the bigger picture includes the myriad ways users have interacted with our images, by adding notes and comments, by including them in their own curated galleries, by tweeting them, and referencing them on their blogs. There are limitless possibilities for users to interact with digital materials and we should be developing metrics that reflect this landscape. This forum will examine multiple approaches to assessing the impact of a digital library collection that exists beyond an institution's borders.


Professional Forum - discuss an issue


dd388's picture
Dianne Dietrich is the Physics & Astronomy Librarian at the Edna McConnell Clark Physical Sciences Library at Cornell University. She is also currently the chair of the Library Outside the Library group that coordinated making four thousand of the library's public domain images available on...
jdalton's picture
Joseph Dalton is an Applications Developer with the New York Public Library's (NYPL) Office of Strategic Planning, where he works on projects such as the Digital Gallery – an online archive of over 700,000 images from the library's research collections – on APIs for exposing Digital Gallery images...
Effie Kapsalis's picture
As Head of Web, New Media & Outreach at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Effie Kapsalis uses technology to provide the public meaningful experiences with the Smithsonian’s vast archives which are a vital part of American history, scientific exploration, and international cultural...
sebchan's picture
Seb Chan is currently the Director of Digital & Emerging Media, Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Until November 2011, he led the Digital, Social and Emerging Technologies department at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, where he oversaw the implemen- tation of Open Access and...
Michelle Springer's picture
Michelle Springer is a project manager of digital initiatives within the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the Library of Congress. Her work is focused on Web policy; particularly the identification, development, intra-agency coordination, and documentation of policies addressing Library...
Helena Zinkham's picture
I enjoy life as a picture librarian – starting out in 1977 with photo collections at the Maryland Historical Society and currently Chief of the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. Conversations about old pictures (whether through Flickr or in the research center) along with...
paulab's picture
I am currently working at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney as the Manager of Visual & Digitisation Services that includes: Photography, Audio-visuals, The Image Resource Centre, The Photo Library and Rights and Permissions. I have worked in imaging sections for other cultural organisations in...