Contact: Matt Raymond, (202) 707-0020

March 25, 2009

Library of Congress Makes More Assets and Information Available Through New-Media Initiatives

YouTube and iTunes Launches Will Follow Groundbreaking Flickr Pact to Bring More Treasures to the Public

The Library of Congress will begin sharing content from its vast video and audio collections on the YouTube and Apple iTunes web services as part of a continuing initiative to make its incomparable treasures more widely accessible to a broad audience. The new Library of Congress channels on each of the popular services will launch within the next few weeks.

New channels on the video and podcasting services will be devoted to Library content, including 100-year-old films from the Thomas Edison studio, book talks with contemporary authors, early industrial films from Westinghouse factories, first-person audio accounts of life in slavery, and inside looks into the Library's fascinating holdings, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and the contents of Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination.

"The Library of Congress launched the first U.S. agency-wide blog two years ago and continued its pioneering social-media role with initiatives such as the immensely successful Flickr pilot project," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "We have long seen the value of such interaction with the public to help achieve our missions, and these agreements remove many of the impediments to making our unparalleled content more useful to many more people."

The General Services Administration today also announced agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and that will allow other federal agencies to participate in new media while meeting legal requirements and the unique needs of government. GSA plans to negotiate agreements with other providers, and the Library will explore these new media services when they are appropriate to its mission and as resources permit.

The Library began a groundbreaking pilot project with the popular Flickr photo-sharing service last year, loading 3,100 historic photos to start and an additional 50 photos each week. The overwhelmingly positive response from the Flickr user community not only brought broad public awareness to the Library's existing online collection of more than 1 million prints and photos at, but also sparked creative interaction with them, as users helped provide Library curators with new information on photos with limited descriptions through public review and tagging. Library of Congress photos on Flickr currently have received more than 15 million views.

A Flickr initiative called The Commons was introduced with the Library’s project launch and a growing number of libraries, museums and archives have since started their own accounts within the Commons framework. The Library has been followed by 22 additional institutions from the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands that are sharing selections from their photo archives and inviting the public to contribute information.

The Flickr pilot placed the Library in a leadership role for other cultural and government communities exploring Web 2.0 possibilities. Information on Library news and events is now available through Twitter, more than 30 RSS and e-mail news alert services, and one of the first blogs from a federal agency.

Library staff worked with service providers to adjust technological and legal standards to permit participation in social-networking services by other federal agencies and non-profit organizations. All content made available on third-party sites will also be available on the Library’s own website at

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at

# # #

PR 09-055
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top