Archives Outside

For people who love, use and manage archives

Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

It’s official, we’re a part of The Commons on Flickr

It’s been some time since we first applied to be a part of The Commons on Flickr and we are happy to announce that we are now a participating institution.

From The Commons pagetext-the-commons the-commons-institutiuons

Cultural institutions on The Commons share photos from their collections that have ‘no known copyright restrictions’. You can see more about this copyright statement on Flickr.

We’ve been on Flickr since June 2008 and have uploaded over 2100 photos. Our Flickr friends are often busy commenting on/tagging our photos, sharing their considerable knowledge and, researching facts and figures. Our blog series Moments in Time is also shared on our Flickr stream.

By joining The Commons our collection becomes more visible. We are looking forward to meeting new Flickrites to our photostream who enjoy browsing old photos and may also have historical information and knowledge about our photos to share!


Archives and Flickr: a perfect fit?

There’s been some recent discussion about Flickr following an article called How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet.

Kate Theimer raised the topic on her blog ArchivesNext and we thought we’d highlight it here:

…And if Flickr isn’t the cool shiny toy it once was (and it certainly is not), are archives moving to something else to share images? Pinterest is addicting…but it doesn’t have all the features of Flickr. Is Flickr still the go-to site for archives to share images, or have we moved on to something else? Facebook, perhaps? Or do you use both?

Read the full post here

What about State Records NSW on Flickr?

We still like using Flickr for showcasing the SRNSW collection. Apart from anything it’s simple to use and a friendly and informative community has sprung up around our photostream. Flickr reaches an infinitely larger audience than we ever could from our website and we can easily interact with visitors who are interested in our photos (which we can’t do in our own image database).

We’re still not on The Commons, though; we’ve been on a waiting list for the last five years or so. Perhaps that part of Flickr has ground to a halt…?

We have also been experimenting with the Flickr API and feeding visitors’ photos of our archives back into our catalogue. So, if someone chooses to post to our Flickr group then the image ends up visible to people browsing our catalogue – see here for example.

I think being part of Web 2.0 keep us (as archival institutions) relevant: people see what we have; who we are, and; possibly more importantly they know we exist. It’s an opportunity to be in the places where people live/work/play online and not trying to force them elsewhere. We don’t participate in tons of social media sites, we do what is manageable and experiment with what works for us.

Flickr has definitely been successful and it would be sad to see it go. What would the alternative be?

What are your thoughts?

Have you got photos of our archives that you’d like to share?

Have you visited our reading rooms to view original NSW State archives? Did you take photos of the records? Add your photos of documents from the official NSW State archives collection to our new Flickr Group called Archives2Share NSW.

We’re trying a crowdsourcing  experiment, tell your friends!

The idea of this new Flickr group is to help make the State’s archives more accessible. Our aim is to make your Flickr images (of our archives) available through our new, experimental catalogue search tool. So when you search for a record series or item using the search tool then a relevant image from Flickr will be visible.

Example from the catalogue

Here is an example showing the front and back of a railway history card (see the Flickr images at the bottom of the screenshot)

Example from the Flickr group

Here are some items that Fiona and I have added to the Flickr group as examples. Notice there are a couple of photos in included that aren’t yet available in Photo Investigator – these are worthy candidates for the Flickr group.

Sound interesting?

In order to make this connection between Flickr and our search tool, we first need to find the relevant series or item in our catalogue to which the image belongs (more than likely you will have all this information on your retrieval slip).

Upload to the new Flickr group – Archives2Share – it’s not as complicated as it sounds

If you upload an image to this group, please add these special machine tags (add machine tags in the same way as ‘normal’ tags):

1. srnsw:series=[series number]

example: srnsw:series=12345
– this number is on your retrieval slip


2. srnsw:item=[item number]

example: srnsw:item=479518
– this number is obtained from the catalogue search result and not the retrieval slip. It is the number at the end of the item’s URL e.g.

Tag your images

Please add other relevant tags as you see fit and we will also add these to our catalogue. For example, keywords like “probate”, “shipping list”, “map”, or the names of people and places will help make these images more accessible to others. If you are feeling brave, you might try adding extra machine tags ( e.g. to specify geographical coordinates or to link to a person in Trove.

We are also using a special “archives2share” tag to keep track of our progress.

But I don’t have a Flickr account and I really want to share…

Not a problem. Flickr accounts are free and you can join in a matter of minutes. Then simply upload your images to your account, tag them and add them to the Flickr group.

If you don’t wish to get a Flickr account, you can upload your images via our contact form here on the blog (note: you can only add one image at a time).

Acceptable items to add

There is a general 30 year closure period for all records. Due to the sensitive information contained in some series of records the closure period is longer. Basically, if you view the archive in the reading room (without needing a letter of permission granting you special access) then you can add it to the group.


This is a new area for us and we hope to share our progress with you in the Discussions area of the Flickr group. We also look forward to your suggestions and feedback.