[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]
Last week we had some fun but kept to ourselves. This week we’ll venture into a true social networking site and start mixing it up.
At Flickr, people can upload photos, label them, and share with others. Using tags and sets, Flickr members can organize their photos and retrieve any specific picture quickly and easily anywhere the Internet is available. Sounds productive, right? It is. But let’s not overlook the social networking magic!
Let’s say your family or friends live far away. Rather than email pictures to everyone, why not simply post them? Once your family knows your Flickr address, they can check in at any time and see what you’re up to. Post vacation photos, pictures of your craft project, the new puppy, and the last birthday party. You can add descriptions beneath any photo and your friends can leave comments when they visit the page.
If your friends join Flickr, you can browse and comment on their photos, too. Carry on a daily or weekly conversation using pictures for ice-breakers. But you’re not limited to existing friends and family. You can browse the world’s photos. Interested in dogs? Search “Yorkshire terrier” and choose from more than 14,000 pictures (like the one shown here). Pick favorites. Comment. Find other photographers who share your interests.
Meaning for libraries
Oh, my! Where do I start? The list of library possibilities using a photo-sharing site like Flickr could run pretty long. Here’s a few to consider.
- Patrons might want to upload photos from a CD, a flash or USB drive, email, or digital camera cable. Will your library’s workstations let them do that? Do you make photo editing software available?
- Many libraries have their own Flickr accounts. Some post photos of facilities, people, and public events (think marketing!). You could take pictures during an event and encourage attendees to visit your Flickr page and comment. Get some interaction going!
- Pictures uploaded and organized on Flickr can be mashed into a library’s website or blog.
- Some libraries display their collections using Flickr. Maybe you have historic community photos you’d like to make available. There’s ample description space to give details for each picture.
- Brainstorm fun projects. Let kids or teens submit photos. Get them involved.
- Libraries and librarians interact with each other on Flickr. It’s a great way to share ideas.
Learn more by participating
Set aside 15-20 minutes and try to do steps 1 and 2 in one sitting. On another day, try steps 3 and 4. Return on a third and fourth day for step 5 (and maybe a little more of steps 2, 3, and 4!).
- Open a Flickr account. It’s free for the first 200 photos you upload, but you should get a sense of the Flickr community long before that. (Hint: Be sure you write down your login name and password so you can get back in later.)
- Upload a few digital photos.
* Add titles and captions. Be as vague or as specific as you’d like. Just let your personality come through.
* Add tags. Type in words that give the photo meaning to you. Examples: beach vacation baby sand castle ocean. Tags will help you retrieve photos later.
* Set permissions. You can decide who sees each photo. There are settings for you, family, friends, and anyone. Most people choose “anyone” most of the time (it’s a sharing site, after all), but make some family shots a bit more private.
- Browse. Enter a word or a place in the search box and browse any photos that come up. Then try another word. You might also explore the best of the best: interesting Flickr photos from the last seven days.
- Make friends. Connect with other Flickr people whose photos you like, or invite family and friends to open accounts and connect with them. (Hint: give them your Flickr page address.) You’ll find the “add as a contact” option on other members’ profile pages. You’ll be asked whether they are friends, family, or just contacts. That determines which pictures of yours they’ll see.
- Interact. View your contacts’ photos and comment on them. They might comment on yours, too. The ongoing dialogue you might foster is one of the wonders of social networking.
Have fun! It’s your web now.