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