MCN – Building communities of interest

[More live blogging from Gemma from the MCN 2010 conference, ‘I/O: The Museum Inside-Out/Outside-In’ in Austin, Texas, to help MCGers keep up with the news and exciting research being shared at the conference.]

Building communities of interest with museum collections, libraries and museums – Effie Kapsalis, Martin Kalfatovic and Darren Milligan 30/10

Smithsonian is mandated to serve the public who is everyone.  Smithsonian Flickr commons launched 2 years ago.   They have their own creative commons and institution’s photostream.  Aim was to increase public knowledge of institution and access to the collections.  Also to develop an online community, reuse is encouraged.  They have no known copyright restrictions and they have been scraped by Wikimedia.  The images have been on the Smithsonian’s website for years but their stats have been blown apart by stats from Flickr.

Public has contributed to collections and more information about some subjects in the photographs.  Flickr is a more open space where people can respond and interact with collections.

Behind the scenes there are areas which are closed off: data in card catalogues, databases and reserve collections.  Bio Heritage Library aims to work in partnerships across the world to digitise out of copyright specialist literature and make it available online.

Smithsonian teachers night: wine, demos, where each museum talks about what they have to offer teachers and students.  The purpose of this is to increase use of Smithsonian by teachers.  They also offer teachers online conferences about specific themes where Smithsonian curators and researchers interact with teachers.

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3 comments on “MCN – Building communities of interest
  1. Angela Murphy says:

    What did you mean by the phrase ‘they have been scrapped by wikipedia’ ? but now it just occurred to me that you probably mis-typed ‘scraped’ so on to the next question. I have spent a lot of time checking Flickr cultural commons on behalf of various clients and there is no doubt that the Smithsonian’s presence there has got a lot of attention and ‘public knowledge’ of the collections. This is excellent. What I am less clear about is how they get the new information back into the collection – and the amount of resource needed to filter these nuggets of information from the (slightly inane) chatter. Not that this is to give it a negative – just that there must be a way to manage this information from users. For sure there are ways to give that information input some structure (cf the brave experiment at the National Maritime to input ship’s log information direct to a database) Did you see any examples of this ? if so, which were the best ? thanks

    • gemma says:

      Hi Angela

      Thanks for your questions. Thanks for pointing out the typo, it should have been scraped. I’m not sure of lots of more examples. Why not get in touch with Effie?


  2. is there any reasons as to why these things are not public. why do private companies and partnerships want to keep the databases from the public. are they making a profit off with holding them?

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