Denver Public Library uses social networking to digitize photos

Take a close look librarians.  This may be the future of public libraries.  Massive digitization projects where a librarian becomes the digitizer-in-chief.

The Denver Public Library is launching a site next Tuesday that will allow users to upload photos and stories about Colorado.  The idea is to leverage the power of social networking to create a historical digital collection for a geographic location.

Users will be able to visit and will be able to share their stories, upload images, and even form their own digital collections from their own materials and materials that others have uploaded.  The Denver Public Library has almost a million images in its digital collections that will be used to kick-start the project.

The idea of having local communities contribute their own stories and photos to create a digital collection is absolutely brilliant.  It’d be virtually impossible for any organization to try and digitize the same amount of content.

We have Facebook today which is essentially a live snapshot of today in a digital collection.  This effort is basically trying to create a Facebook of the past for a given community.  You can easily see how the project could go national as well.  This would be a perfect project for a national digital library to own.

Of course, it will be very important to make sure that user submissions maintain a certain level of quality and accuracy.  Most users will most likely submit good quality content but it’s very easy to imagine some users submitting stuff that you wouldn’t want in a historical digitial collection.

The Denver Public Library will have several of its staff overseeing the social digitization site.  They will also be allowing members of the community to come in and scan their photos during certain hours.

Public libraries provide the perfect structure for digitization projects like this.  Libraries have an amazing connection to their local communities and are staffed by personnel that are expertly trained to identify and archive valuable information.  Expect to see many more digitization projects like this at libraries in the future.