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Century-old films and modern book talks will soon be available on YouTube and iTunes, thanks to the Library of Congress latest effort to spread its collection in the digital age.
Library officials plan to launch about 100 videos Wednesday, including the earliest copyrighted film: a man named Fred Ott sneezing, circa 1894.
We want to go where the people are, LOC spokesman Matt Raymond said. Were nonexclusive. We want to try to get to as many of these sites that make sense and that arent too resource-intensive.
The new venture comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the Librarys partnership with Flickr, which marked the first time that the photo-sharing site featured photos in the public domain.
Other libraries and archives have followed suit, and so far, the LOC has put about 5,500 photos on Flickr.
Its a small portion of the Librarys 14 million photographs, but the experiment has allowed users to discover collections that they never knew existed. And in turn, the Library has gleaned more information about hundreds of photos because of users comments.
So far, the Librarys photos have attracted more than 15 million views, with users commenting on everything from the location of a photo to whether Abraham Lincoln was handsome as a young Congressman.
Theres a real fascination with the fact that users can interact with this content in ways they might not be able to do on our Web site, Raymond said.
On YouTube, the Library will develop several channels on different collections, such as film from the Thomas Edison studio, book talks with contemporary authors and early industrial films from Westinghouse factories. Apples iTunes store will also hold content, such as first-person audio accounts of life in slavery. More content will be added continuously.
Its just the latest in the Librarys efforts to draw in more visitors by using popular technology. Founded in 1800, the Librarys core mission has always been to provide access to its collection and social-networking sites are all about accessibility.
The Library has noticed an uptick in visitors to certain parts of the Web site, Raymond said. For example, links posted on the Librarys Twitter page sometimes funnel more people to the site than links on Yahoo do, he said.
Already, the agency is looking toward its next high-tech venture.
The possibilities are almost endless, Raymond said. Were talking about doing very creative and innovative things with Facebook.