This March 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of Faces and Places (www.kentonlibrary.org/genphotos) , a unique online historical photo album that highlights the people, places and events of Kentucky (and some Cincinnati). Since its inception a decade ago, the Faces and Places website has received over 9.2 million views. There are nearly 85,000 photos, 6,435 subject headings and nearly 2,000 comments.
This online album was created when the history staff at the Kenton County Public Library started digitizing some of its resources. They were digitizing documents and family files so that genealogy researchers around the world could obtain the information they needed without having to incur the cost of travel expenses. The staff then added photos to the mix, therefore creating Faces and Places.
The popularity of the photograph collection easily lent itself to a digital format. As such, staff scanned and the photos and staff and volunteers did the indexing. When the Kentucky Post, a daily newspaper, ceased publication they donated over 60,000 photographs to the Kenton County Public Library. Staff and volunteers began adding those to the database, using keywords and subject headings to make searching easier.
Faces and Places is searchable by surname, address, city, or subject. As the database became more well-known in the community, other area residents began donating photos to the library. One of the more significant collections was a local photography studio who donated over 1,000 photographs of greater Cincinnati scenes from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. Because of the accessibility of the photographs through the database, many have been used by local authors, in local history books, by the media, by teachers and students and by museums and local businesses.
With images of Riverfront Stadium, former presidents, historical homesteads and families, the most viewed photo is not one you would expect. It is of the 1995-1996 fourth grade class from Holy Cross Elementary located in Covington, Kentucky with 6,681 views. You can also search photos by “most viewed,” “recently viewed,” “new additions,” and more.
As social media flourished, so did sharing of photos online through avenues such as Facebook. People would search their family name and see photos of their great grandparents and share. The Library’s IT department created the interface to be very user friendly. It allows patrons to make comments on the photos, to post them directly to social media and to send them to others via email. Photos have appeared on Facebook and Instagram. All photos have a KCPL watermark to signify the collection belongs to the library.
On each photo page is a comment section. These comments help library staff identify people and locations of the photographs when full information is not available. Comments are also useful to genealogists and local history enthusiasts.
The Library’s Local History and Genealogy Department are continually looking for photos to add the Faces and Places collection. They encourage people to donate photos or film negatives to add to the collection. Those wanting to share their photos but not donate them can send in scanned digital images on CD or through email. Digital images must be scanned at 300 dpi and saved in JPEG format.
Kenton County Public Library serves 163,000 people and has invested significantly in serving the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region. It also houses one of the largest collections of local history in Kentucky in its Covington Library, located at 502 Scott Boulevard.