Picture This – The Benefits of Libraries Using Instagram

First, a disclaimer – I LOVE Instagram. It gets me. And I get it. Since joining Instagram a few years ago I find myself looking at everything with the eye of a wannabe amateur photographer. There is just so much beauty and information in our world that needs to be recorded and shared. Photo sharing sites such as Instagram and Flickr allow us to turn our smart phones into top quality cameras – just snap, crop and choose a filter – and almost any photo can look like a shot worthy of a Time magazine cover.

So, enough of my gush fest. Libraries and Instagram, is it a beneficial relationship? Absolutely! Libraries are all about the visual, and so is Instagram. Instagram also has the market cornered amongst the younger demographic; according to Yellow (TM) Social Media Report from May 2013, 71% of Australians aged between 14 and 29 have an Instagram account. The other 29% must be grounded.

While Facebook slowly becomes ‘boring’ and ‘uncool’ amongst the younger generation – as parents, relatives and grandparents join up to the social media giant, ‘get connected’ and post embarrassing comments all over the place (this is what my kids say, so it must be true!) – Instagram steadily holds its own with the tech-fad lovers that are Gen Why Y. Libraries seeking new members can use Instagram to their benefit, attracting the technologically inclined type of patron, people who may have only thought of libraries as places to go when doing assignments or projects for school. I can’t think of one teenager I know who doesn’t have a smart phone constantly attached to their hand, so it stands to reason that being a presence on ‘fun’ photo sharing sites such as Instagram – tapping into the hashtag phenomena, letting potential patrons know that libraries are more than just books in the 21st century – is a definite way to catch ’em while they’re young and keep ’em ’til they’re done.

I follow a number of libraries on Instagram, not just because of my Social Media studies, but because they are interesting, informative and post fascinating photos that often inspire me to seek out a particular book or Google an event or author. The State Library of New South Wales (follow them on Instagram at publiclibrariesnsw) suggest on their blog, available at http://blog.sl.nsw.gov.au/pls/index.cfm/2013/12/19/hashtag-instagram-and-nsw-public-libraries that public libraries in NSW should hashtag pictures posted on Instagram and Flickr with #nswpubliclibraries to showcase libraries and link photos with this hashtag to a group, encouraging discussion and a flow of new followers. This was posted on the State Library blog in December 2013 and so far there are 99 pictures on Instagram with that particular hashtag. By clicking on any photo, you are taken to the page where the picture was originally published and from there you double tap on the image to ‘like’ it, then tap on the name at the top to view all pictures posted by that library, press ‘follow’ and voilà! You are now receiving pictures in your Instagram feed from your favourite libraries.

Bond University in Queensland, Australia, recently ran a “Join The Dots” competition on Instagram during its 25th Anniversary celebrations, which coincided with National Library and Information Week. The idea was to encourage students to use the library’s resources to “get untwisted” when preparing for assignments. The prize was the Twister game, of course! It was a very eye-catching and clever idea by the obviously very clever and tech-savvy library staff at Bond Uni. Each picture posted was of a letter in a circle and underneath, a short informative blurb containing tips for study and staying on top of assessments and assignments – J for journals; O for orientation, I for information, N for news – and so on. An absolute genius idea! And the library’s followers increased substantially during the competition!

Pictures from Instagram – Bond University Library @ bondlibrary

Hell, they certainly grabbed my attention and I live over 800 kilometres away!

Cool Media – The Benefits of YouTube to Libraries.

‘The purpose of the public library is the pursuit of happiness first, education next.’

So proclaimed American librarian John Cotton Dana in his 1896 book, ‘A Library Primer‘. Click forward a hundred odd years and we could say the something similar about YouTube. It’s all about 21st century style happiness on this video sharing social media site, though at first glimpse it would appear any educational value from the countless videos uploaded by users daily is purely unintentional. Cute cats, music and stupid hilarious pranks everywhere. It’s terribly easy to get distracted…oh look, a cute cat eating a cake that looks like a mouse….awww! Be right back, I need to share that on Facebook!

But seriously, feline cuteness aside, libraries are all about evolution. We live in a world where people no longer need to visit a library to find the information they are looking for. If Aunt Wikipedia doesn’t know the answer, Uncle Google surely will, right? It breaks my heart to even write it, but books are no longer the favoured way to learn. Sigh. Lucky for us all, libraries are the best type of early adapters. Show any Library and Information worker a video sharing site such as YouTube, and they will show you the path to the future of libraries and information. Ask them extra nicely and they may even break into song…




Librarians Do Gaga.
Courtesy of Athenasbanquet

What’s not to love?! There are at least five librarian myths shattered right there. And a little subliminal education thrown in for good measure.

But wait! There’s more! Libraries on YouTube offer everything we’ve come to expect from “the hub of the community”.

There are tutorials on how to use a library catalogue –

Experimenting with the catalogue.
Courtesy of National Library of Australia

Animations on why you should use library resources –

Why use library resources.
Courtesy of MandalVandal

Explanations of the Dewey Decimal Classification System –

Dewey Decimal Rap.
Courtesy of Chenoweth Library

And everyone’s favourite, behind the scenes videos –

Luminous World Exhibition Installation.
Courtesy of National Library of Australia

Who says librarians aren’t a whole lot of fun? And clever funny to boot!

There are many more (slightly more serious) videos on YouTube from libraries. Channels such as ‘Dolly Parton Imagination Library Australia’, Parramatta City Library, Library of Congress and universities all around the world are tapping into the next generation of library users via the visual medium. If they don’t get sidetracked by videos of cute cats pulling musical pranks…

A Whole Lotta ‘Like’ – The Benefits of Facebook to Libraries.

Being a book lover, and a library linger-er, even the thought that there are people in the first world who don’t hang out in their local library, let alone know where their library is…well it makes my heart go funny. All those books just waiting to be read! Computers with free wifi! Toy libraries, story time, homework help…ya gotta wonder who wouldn’t know about libraries and all the wonderful services they offer.

According to David Cowling, the Founder and Editor of http://www.SocialMediaNews.com.au 49% of Australians have a Facebook account. That’s a whole lotta audience, even when you take into consideration ‘dead’ accounts and lost passwords. Utilising Facebook to reach people who previously had no idea of the many and varied resources available in libraries in the 21st century is sheer genius. To not do so is wasting a valuable form of free advertising. What’s not to like? Pun intended.

Image thanks to http://www.digitalintellegencetoday.com

The most recent statistics available on Facebook user demographics, available from http://www.businessinsider.com.au/a-demographic-breakdown-of-social-media-2013-3 state that 86% of all Facebook users are between the ages of 18 and 29. That’s a whole lotta selfies!

Sticking with the statistics because I find them awesomely interesting, the National and State Libraries Australasia’s most recent report on library user demographics, have a peek at these at http://nsla.org.au/sites/www.nsla.org.au/files/publications/NSLA.public_library_stats_2011-12_0.pdf , indicate that only 44% of us are members of a library?! That is just not enough to satisfy a future library worker (me!).

So how do we find more library lovers? By making libraries visible and present in places people like to hang out. That’d be Facebook, achieved by encouraging ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. And once we have the attention of our future clientèle, how to we keep it? By raising awareness of what libraries are all about now; the services available; books of interest; behind the scenes information to add a human face to what many may still think of as an archaic institution. Shatter the myth of the stern shooshing librarian.

For libraries now and in the future, I can only think; thank heavens for social media. And for tech savvy library workers. Hallelujah indeed! Facebook allows libraries to reach out to parents across the globe, parents who, since the demise of every family owning a very expensive set of hard cover encyclopaedias, had no idea how to help their child find out what year Einstein gave us his Theory of Relativity (1905 and 1915) I asked, and received an answer, and suggestions of further reading, within 15 minutes from Boise Public Library and Information Services, by using the ‘Ask a Librarian’ feature on their Facebook page. Just. Fabulous. That’s a whole lotta social media savvy!

Facebook gives libraries a chance to show themselves off, selfies of books? What a marvellous idea, books can’t pull ‘duck face’ pouts! Cooking shows are all the rage? Stop by and check out our collection (on the shelves, in the 640’s). Want to know what’s going to happen next on ‘Game of Thrones’? Read the book before your friends see the show on TV, you can find it in the fiction section at 813/.54 21. Selfies, cooking and Game of Thrones are all massively popular at the moment, posting anything about these topics on Facebook is bound to attract people. A whole lotta new ‘likes’!

And it would be a shame to waste an opportunity ‘like’ that. Pun intended again. That’ll never grow old…

Computers are my friend.

My excitement about starting another blog ~ for as I discovered on Monday in class, I am a serial ‘dotsam and netsam’ offender ~ was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I used to consider myself techno-literate. My generation were the first to have access to computers in our school library. Huge boxy things with little green rectangles flashing along as we typed. All terribly exciting but I’d just received THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER! My first electric typewriter, and nothing was ever going to replace the exaltation of placing a clean crisp sheet of paper into the reel and the satisfying clickety clack of tip tap typing away to fill that page with words. Nope, not ever. Until 1998.

Cue 1998. I can’t remember what made me start nagging my husband that we needed a computer. I can clearly recall the “I must have”-ness of it though. I talked non-stop about it for months until, once again, THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER! My first computer, and nothing was ever going to….blah blah blah.

It’s been a world of THE BEST [insert new tech related whatever here] EVER since then. My much longed for beauty was as huge and boxy as they were when I was in Primary school- the desk it sat on took pride of place in our kitchen, taking up half of one wall – but it didn’t matter. My girlfriends and I (all full time Mamas back then) would spend hours everyday surfing the net. And it really was surfing, we’d cruise the waves from one site to the next, paddling from innocent cartoon-ish sites to astrology and fortune telling sites (“your future looks bleak and you seem restless”, um, d’uh, it’s full of poo-y nappies and baby spew oh wise one) and then racing the waves out of sites like rotten.com (ghoulish- you couldn’t look, but then couldn’t look away) SO MUCH FUN! New stuff to explore, new friends to make from all around the world. And all in my kitchen, surrounded by little ones who were more than happy to sit at our feet and munch on a plate of Vegemite Saos and sliced apples while they took a break from pulling apart my saucepan and Tupperware cupboards.

I used my darling ‘puter hourly, daily. My world grew bigger every time I pressed that ‘on’ button. So much to learn, so much to experience, that I would never have known was out there year or two before. How bloody brilliant. Back then my favourite search engine was the internet! I’d trawl through page after page, usually never finding any relevant information to what I’d started searching for, but it didn’t really matter. The pages took ages to load, and as exasperating as that was, it all worked out well in hindsight as it gave me time to change nappies, make cuppas, peg out washing, organise dinner, you know, all that other stuff stopping me from exploring the ‘net, as we old timers called it 😉

It was a natural progression from trawling and haphazardly floating around the ‘net to ‘hanging’ in chat rooms. While it’s often said the internet is just pages and pages of porn, I’m pretty sure it’s chock to the brimful of music sites, and that’s where I headed. I discovered a world full of people who loved the same quirky vibes as me. I believe that’s what Heaven will be like. I no longer felt like a weirdo, I felt at home. Unfortunately for my computer, these chat rooms led us to our first blue screen of death. My conspiracy loving husband still insists that viruses are made by the companies that sell anti-virus. I don’t argue, I’m still too busy playing with technology, though for the last few years it hasn’t been my computer that’s kept me entertained, it’s been my iPhone. Which is why the first unit we did with Bonnie this term was such an eye opener for me; “whadaya mean people STILL use excel?!” Big thanks Miss Bonnie!

Social media has made me a ‘net surfer again. I was a little bit reluctant at first – I was one of the last of my friends to join Facebook, about six years ago – and I deactivate regularly, just to keep me and it interesting 😉 I adored Instagram until this year, I feel too busy this year to be on the look out for the perfect snap to share. I’ve dabbled a few times with Twitter, though as you can tell if you’ve read this far, 140 words is about 800 too little for me, though I do like the interaction with my favourite Australian news shows and writers that Twitter gives me. I had myspace back in the day, as a music lover it was the place to be. Funny how fast it became irrelevant to me and everyone else. I wonder if in ten years we’ll look back and think Facebook and Twitter the same?