Princeton Public Library’s Pinterest-A Halfhearted Attempt.

It is my intention to evaluate Princeton Public Library’s use of Pinterest; however, I’d prefer to provide the ubiquitous Wikipedia facilitated historical survey.

Pinterest is the latest social media site to take North America by storm. According to Wikipedia, the site was launched in March of 2010. I’d argue that Pinterest has really taken off in the last year.

Although Pinterest operates as an “invitation only” site, membership is free and quite easily granted. Pinterest allows member to create thematic boards on their profile. Common themes include crafting ideas, travel locations, cooking, interior design etc. Users can search for inspiration by category or by looking through a Facebook friend’s Pinterest board. Users can organize pins at will and have direct access to their content from its original source.

Pinterest has suffered some criticism in the past year or so. According to Wikipedia, the average American user is 83% female. Gender statistics in Europe are much closer to a 50/50 ratio. Pinterest is a copywriter’s nightmare. Wikipedia explains that “The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor status of Pinterest has been questioned given that it actively promotes its users to copy to Pinterest, for their perpetual use, any image on the internet. Pinterest users cannot claim safe harbor status and as such are exposed to possible legal action for pinning copyrighted material.” As of right now, no significant law suits have emerged. In my own opinion, this is a time bomb waiting to explode.

Nevertheless, Pinterest has been embraced by on-trend companies and organizations. I can see why. Its popular, it’s free, it can be lucrative and can only increase the profile and visibility of the organization. According to Edudemic, “Pinterest offers another great way to keep up with creative and cutting-edge ways libraries are engaging with their communities.”

Edudemic has highlighted 20 of the most effective and most interesting ways that savvy libraries are currently using Pinterest. I’d like to mention my favourites.

“Pinning Book Covers”

Never judge a book by its cover? Well, not exactly. Libraries are currently using Pinterest to pin new and interesting book covers to various boards. It’s a visual and remote way to peruse the shiny and sparkly additions to the library catalogue.

“Creating Reading Lists”

Libraries have created reading suggestions via theme for what seems like eons. I remember the corkboard approach was popular during my youth. Pinterest is the perfect platform for creating and organizing such lists. It’s an easy, free and mobile way to share specifically created reading lists with an unlimited number of people.

“Promoting Library Activities”

Much like Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest allows a library to share upcoming activities and social events. Libraries can create promotional posters available for pinning. Likely social events include reading groups, technical training and networking events. Additionally, libraries can work with associate groups and pin their promotion materials. Libraries can use their Pinterest boards to promote upcoming guest speakers, yoga teachers, etc.

“Offering Up Access to Digital Collections”

Because a pinned item will show the original source, libraries can use pin-able materials to promote digital collections. A library might create a board titled New E-Books with links to the library’s catalogue. This is a great way to introduce new material and technology while accommodating a busy or remote patron. Pinterest allows for a dialogue and perpetual sharing of information.

Princeton Public Library in Princeton New Jersey is one of the many libraries currently using Pinterest.

Their Pinterest account is typical of what I’d expect of a library.

The organization of their boards indicates that they position themselves as an active provider of community services. I’m pleased to see a visible element of local pride. Such applicable boards include “Local Author’s Day 2012” and “Princeton Sites to See.” These kinds of boards place the library at the centre of the community and reciprocally promote the local area’s tourism and sense of community. This indicates that Princeton library is a social pillar or at least that they’d like to be considered as such.

While a “Staff Picks” board is not exactly a new innovation, (see Blockbuster or Roger’s videos circa 2002 and current day Chapters) it is an active link between the library staff and their patrons. At the moment, there are only 8 picks. As this board grows, I’d like to see a category like this expanded perhaps by genre (Mystery, Children’s) for ease of use.  They have started this trend with a board called “Picture Book Recommendations.”

Pinterest is a haven for arts and crafters. Princeton’s “Book Related Crafts” is adorable and plays on Pinterest’s affinity for crafts. Their “Book Related Crafts” are geared towards children and appear to be complimentary to children’s books. This also suggests to me that Princeton sees a majority of their followers as women and possible mothers.

Princeton Library’s website promotes their use of Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is not yet the standard among such organizations, but I’d be shocked if they weren’t on Facebook and Twitter. These social media sites are reciprocal in nature. The library can promote their Pinterest account via Facebook and Twitter. These types of social media should be used in conjunction and have the positive result of increasing the library’s visibility and relativity.

Their Pinterest boards are well labelled and clearly indicate what kind of pins a user can suggest. Pinterest is approachable and easy to use. The biggest hurdle to Pinterest is obtaining an account and the overwhelming amount of material. It is worth noting that a non-member can still access Pinterest and view different organization’s pins. Without a membership, you are unable to pin to your personal boards. I would still rate this application as accessible.

Were I a member of Princeton’s Public Library system, I’d certainly follow their Pinterest account; however, I’d certainly have a suggestion or two. I have some misgivings about the sources of their pins. I did a little bit of research in the “Local Author’s Day 2012.” Each time a pinned book is “clicked” you are taken to a variety of different sites. This includes Amazon and Google Books. I searched throughout this board and not once did the source of the pin reveal a link to the library catalogue. Princeton should be creating their own pins to highlight the usability of their library catalogue rather than referring their patrons to for profit sites. This is a unforgivable oversight in my opinion.

Princeton Public Library has recently revamped their website. And they’re happy to tell you about it.

Patrons are encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback. I’d suggest that the library rethink the social media corner of their homepage/website to include the full spectrum of their offerings.

Why not include a link to the library’s Pinterest account? This, to me, indicates that they’re half-heartedly devoted to their Pinterest account. I surmise as much because they have provided link to their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Why not include a link to Pinterest? Pinterest is a huge trend at the moment enjoying a steady but meteoric ride to the top.

I sent an email to the library asking as such. I’m eagerly awaiting a response.

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