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Flickr to host Library of Congress photos

A pilot project aims to share Library of Congress photos on Flickr and enlist the collective wisdom of Web site visitors to endow them with descriptive tags.

Library of Congress color photos
Some Rosie-the-Riveteresque photos at the Library of Congress' Flickr site. Click for a slideshow of photos. Flickr

The good news is the Library of Congress is putting 3,000 images up at Flickr. The bad news is they're relying on us to tag them all.

In a pilot project announced Wednesday, the government archive put the public-domain, copyright-free photos on the Library of Congress Flickr page. That's just a small fraction of 14 million photos and other visual materials at the Library of Congress, according to the archive's blog, but hey, it's a pilot project.

If you're like me, you recognize the value of tagged photos when you're looking for a particular shot but can't remember when or where you took it, or when you want to sift photos to zero in only those with something like "birthday" and "grandma." But also if you're like me, you probably tag your photos only intermittently.

So it's a safe bet that the Library of Congress photos won't immediately sport a huge range of highly descriptive tags. But I'm inclined to see the glass as well over half full: having the photos easily available is great, and I can't imagine the government would pay on its own to fund some dedicated tagging effort.