Pinterest in Libraries

These days, libraries and technology go hand in hand. Many libraries, from academic to public and everything in between, have embraced social media sites as a way to promote their libraries and what they can offer to their patrons. A few years ago it would have been odd for a library to have a Facebook or Twitter account; today the opposite is true. Pinterest, which has only been around for about a year (and is still invitation only), is the fastest growing social media site in the United States (Constine 2012). According to the blog libraryh3lp, the social networking site Pinterest “lets users create groupings (pinboards) of images (pins) they find on the web or upload. Users can then interact with other people’s pins and pinboards by “like”ing pins or by following pinboards” (2012). Some popular and common pinboards on the site have themes of cooking, favorite books, products, crafts, clothing, and more. Recipes, tutorials, blogs, websites, and many more kinds of information are being shared worldwide.

Not only are individuals using the site as a virtual pinboard, but businesses, universities, and libraries are as well. Pinterest has become a great way for all kinds of libraries to promote their services. An article by lists 20 ways libraries are using Pinterest, all of which fall into one of two categories. Pinboards created are either promoting what the library has to offer or are sharing ideas (such as programs and book displays) with other libraries. The children’s librarian at the public library I work at uses the site to find crafts and program ideas for the children’s room. David Lee King, known author and web blogger about emerging technologies started an experiment at his library with Pinterest, giving it a trial run to see how popular it is with their patrons. He even lists tips for other libraries to use if they are thinking about joining Pinterest. Some libraries that are using Pinterest in a variety of ways are the Delaware County District Library, the San Francisco Public Library, and the New York Public Library. Libraries are using pinboards to promote their catalogs (linking images of books to the library’s catalog), show what their staff is reading, what patrons are reading, what’s new to the library’s collection, read-a-likes, infographics and more. There is an endless list of how libraries are using Pinterest to reach out to their patrons and communities around them.

Public libraries are not the only ones who’ve discovered the usefulness of Pinterest; academic libraries are joining in as well. Last month the Association of  College and Research Libraries (ACRL) held a webcast titled “Pinterest and Academia,” looking at Pinterest and how “its potential research applications makes it a strong resource in the modern academic library tool box” (ACRL 2012). Saint Mary’s College Library of California has used Pinterest to promote its collection, and the University of Nevada Libraries use Pinterest to promote events going on campus-wide. These are just two examples of how academic libraries are using the social media site as a way to reach their patrons.

Not everyone is cheering about Pinterest, however. Pinterest’s terms of service are causing some people to have second thoughts about the site, some even deleting their accounts in response. A Scientific American blog, Symbiartic, goes into detail about why people are up in arms about the site’s terms of service, but in a nutshell, the terms state “that anything you “pin” to their site belongs to them. Completely. Wholly. Forever and for always” (Monoyios 2012). You can’t take it back after you upload an image to their site, and if Pinterest makes money off of your image you don’t have any rights to the profits (Monoyios 2012).

Pinterest has become a great site for libraries to connect virtually with their patrons and other libraries worldwide. Many libraries have uploaded pictures of their buildings and new building plans, program ideas, and archive images to share with their communities, but they need to be aware and perhaps wary of the relatively new social media site’s terms of service and what these terms could mean for them, and what they have decided to share.


ACRL. Pinterest and Academia (2012). Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) . Retrieved September 25, 2012

Constine, Josh. Pinterest Hits 10 Million U.S. Monthly Uniques Faster Than Any Standalone Site Ever -comScore (2012, February 7). In TechCrunch. Retrieved September 15, 2012

Dunn, Jeff. 20 Ways Libraries Are Using Pinterest Right Now (2012, March 13). Edudemic. Retrieved September 25, 2012

King, David Lee. Pinterest for Libraries – What We’re Doing (2012, March 15). David Lee King. Retrieved September 25, 2012

Libraryh3lp. Promoting Your Library Through Pinterest (2015, February 15). libraryh3lp. Retrieved September 25, 2012

Monoyios, Kalliopi. Pinterest’s Terms of Service, Word by Terrifying Word (2012, March 19).  Symbiartic, Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved September 25, 2012




Pitfalls and Praise ~ Social Media

While we can all recognize the benefits of staying connected, and the ways in which social media has changed and contributed to this endeavor, public libraries face unique challenges in providing this service.

How far does a library’s obligation extend in protecting the privacy of a user on a public internet station?  Screens and content are fully visible to passersby, and to library staff.  Is an individual’s freedom of expression and right to privacy being compromised?

Further, should libraries have “social media-only” computers to keep other stations free for research, job searching, or word processing, for example?  Is social media as worthy a use of a library’s technology resources as these other functions?

Please select the following link to read, and then join, the discussion about the pitfalls and praise of social media!

Pitfalls and Praise ~ Social Media


“Getting Our Voices Heard”: Creating a Library Community Through the Use of Social Media.

Most people are familiar with the recent trend of libraries utilizing various social media outlets in order to promote programs and services. Currently, I subscribe to my own library district’s facebook page to keep abreast on what’s new at my local library. This widespread use of social media is an excellent way to quickly get information out to patrons and keep them interested in the goings on at their local branch.

Lately, however, libraries are starting to use social media as an outlet for the community to voice their opinions regarding what they wish to see at their local branches. These opinions range from the usual requests of more quiet study space and a better variety of books and media to suggesting how the physical structure of the library is arranged to make it not only more visually appealing but more useful as well. In addition, patrons can use the library’s social media outlets to be more active in programs by participating online.

Intrigued by the idea of a library’s social media page being used as a virtual “suggestion box”, I looked at a couple of libraries that have successfully used social media in this way. The first of these is the Surrey City Centre Library near Vancouver, BC. When the Canadian government awarded a $36 million grant to Bing Thom Architects for the construction of a new library, it was under the condition that the library had to be built within 18 months. With no time to conduct board meetings in order to determine what should be included in the building, library officials turned to social media. They created what was dubbed the “Ideabook” which incorporated Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and the library’s own blog to gather input regarding the design of the new library. The community posted pictures on Flickr of architecture they liked or left comments on Facebook suggesting the kinds of materials they would enjoy best. The result of all of this feedback was a beautiful new library based on a people-centered design and is a building that the community can be proud of considering they had a hand in its construction!

Then there is the LibraryYou project developed by Donna Feddern of the Escondido Public Library just north of San Diego, CA. LibraryYou is described as an “online university for the people, by the people,” and it allows community members the opportunity to contribute their own ideas and programming via podcasts and YouTube videos. Unlike most traditional library programming that consists of patrons coming to the library to participate, LibraryYou allows users to log into the library’s website and watch demonstrations on how to make balloon animals or create a podcast on how they survived the Holocaust. This is a great way for the library to celebrate their community by allowing them to show off their talents or share their life stories with others!

Allowing patrons to have their voices heard through their library’s social media outlets gives people a sense of community and pride in their libraries. It may even serve to bring those who are unable to physically visit the library a chance to participate as well. For example, Susan Chaves recently blogged on TechSoup about how to hold a Tweet Chat at your library. Wouldn’t this be a wonderful alternative for physically disabled patrons to still participate in book clubs and board meetings by accessing live events via Tweet Chat?

With social media so prevalent in our society, it only makes sense for libraries to use it to their advantage to not only get the word out on upcoming programs and services but to allow members of the community to share with each other and voice their opinions. The possibilities for how social media can be used creatively are endless!


Bayliss, S. (2012, June 11). Case Study: How Social Media Built a Library. Retrieved from Library Journal:

Chaves, S. (2011, November 15). How to Run a Tweet Chat. Retrieved from Techsoup:

LibraryYou. (2012, September 29). Retrieved from LibraryYou – Sharing Local Knowledge:

What Potential Pitfalls Exist When Deciding To Use Social Media?

While much discussion takes place regarding the benefits and potential uses of social media, consideration must also be given to the potential costs of using this technology.  As David Lee King discusses in his 2011 article, 41% of the U.S. population has a Facebook profile.   (Lee King, 2011).  Facebook is but one example of the power reach that social media technologies can have for any organization, including a library.  As with any new system, implementing social networking at a library can have drawbacks, some practical and some even legal.

                The main advantage of social media and other Web 2.0 applications is that information does not just come from the provider to the user, but that users actually provide their own content.  (Chung & Lampert, 2011).  This raises the main practical problem, staffing for monitoring and responding to user questions and input.  As an extreme example, the New York Public Library has 122,000 Twitter followers, 32,000 Facebook “fans,” and 1,500 subscribers to its YouTube channel.  (Kho, 2011).  Each of these social media sites not only requires updating, but responses to user questions.  Simply ignoring comments and using social media to solely deliver information does not use the networks to their full capabilities.  (Hall, 2011).  It may take too much of a librarian’s time to provide the input needed.  (Chung & Lampert, 2011).  In one case study, the Coco-Cola company started a blog which generated comments and questions from visitors.  (Chung & Lampert, 2011).  Due to the time required to respond, the blog stopped answering questions after one year.  (Chung & Lampert, 2011).  How can a library address this problem while still using social media to its full potential?  How can a low level librarian help solve this?  What about supervisory librarians?

                Social media also raises some potential legal issues.   (Carson, 2010).  Any system where users are invited to share information, videos, or other content raises the possibility of copyright violations.  (Carson, 2010).  How should a librarian deal with a comment, link, or video contained in a library’s social media site that contains materials subject to copyright?  Think of movies uploaded to YouTube.  What is the library’s responsibility in policing this content?  What policies could help alleviate this problem?  Defamatory comments in a site are may raise issues.(Carson, 2010)  What should a library do when a user/patron posts something that is potentially defamatory?  What if the subject of those statements challenges them in a communication to the library?

List of References

Carson, Bryan M. (2010, 2010 October-November). Libraries and social media: social media can prove highly useful to libraries but can also pose a variety of Legal Risks. Librarians need to develop and implement usage policies before problems arise. Information Outlook, 14, 9+.

Chung, Su Kim, & Lampert, Cory. (2011). Strategic planning for sustaining user-generated content in digital collections. Journal of Library Innovation, 2, 74+.

Hall, Hazel. (2011). Relationship and role transformations in social media environments. The Electronic Library, 29, 421+.

Kho, Nancy Davis. (2011, 2011/06//). Social media in libraries: keys to deeper engagement. Information Today, 28, 1+.

Lee King, David. (2011, 2011 May-June). Facebook for libraries: it’s easy to use social media’s most popular tool to connect with your community. American Libraries, 42, 42+.



Welcome future librarians!

Welcome to our blog on social media! The four of us will explore the various ways in which libraries utilize different kinds of social media tools to promote library functions and resources and to get patrons excited about what libraries are doing with technology today! Please feel free to comment and add to our growing discussions!


Rachelle Kuzyk

Amanda King

Matt McQuillan

Emily Oleniczak