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Hallowed Halls- Yale Law Library

December 4, 2010

Iniustitie Typus, Guillaume Le Rouillé, JUSTICIE ATQUE INIUSTICIE (Paris, 1520) from

Let us examine, for the sake of contrast, Flickr usage by an academic library, which can generally be characterized by an emphasis on collections over programming. Few towers of academia loom loftier than Yale Law School, who’s Lillian Goldman Law Library maintains an account here. The account provides detailed citations and call numbers for photographed sources from a number of the library’s collections, organized into sets for browsing purposes. Photographed manuscripts are included “to provide access to (the) vast content contained” indicating the use of the photostream as a research tool. Other sets detail technical processes step by step, in this case record tagging.

Just as best practice literature exists in the public sphere, academic librarians are educating one another on creative and productive uses of Flickr in their institutions. Steve Lawson, Humanities Librarian at Colorado College, has posted a slide show of his recommendations on Slideshare, thus using social media to further social media. Fancy that.

Lillian Goldman provides a fairly direct route to its Flickr account via the Rare Books Department page and provides users with a wealth of updates via its News and Blogs page. Though we might assume that the average ivy league law student could handily figure these tools out on their own, Rare Book Librarian Mike Widener maintains his own blog describing the latest Flickr uploads, as well as other happenings and points of interest in his department. The Flickr account seems to serve Yale Law students well as an information resource and point of virtual access to their collection as many photos are heavily viewed, though the interactivity component is limited and few if any of the photos are favorited or commented upon. It is not exactly clear if this is a goal of the library but an invitation to contribute to content in the manner of the Library of Congress might evoke some participation. Again, it is more difficult to describe the nature of the collection’s role in terms of its users. Were I bright enough to study law at Yale, I imagine myself being more fascinated by this content (some of the images and descriptions are pretty amazing even from a lay perspective) but perhaps their enshrined and ancient status would prevent me from utilizing the social component of this particular batch of social media.

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