Tumblr Talk

As social media continues to impact our way of life, libraries have been using these tools to expand the way they reach out and communicate with library users

July 1, 2014

It’s quite common to see libraries on Facebook and Twitter, but many institutions have gradually been branching out to Tumblr. This social media platform is fast becoming a vibrant online community where libraries and librarians connect with peers and patrons. These “tumblarians” are using the platform to promote collections, perform readers’ advisory, and start conversations about our profession. 

At the June 30 TumblarianTalk conversation starter, six tumblarians shared a bit of background on their respective Tumblrs and gave insight on how they approach content sharing. 

First, Ian Stade from the Hennepin County (Minn.) Library spoke on tumbling images and information from his library’s special collection and digital archives. He highlighted how staffers focus on tumbling timely topics and guest posts from interns and volunteers, and how they use Tumblr to cultivate partnerships with local researchers. Because the collection is becoming more well-known, the library has changed its rules on who is allowed to view the special collection in person, making it a more inclusive collection. 

Colleen Theisen, outreach and instruction librarian at the University of Iowa’s Special Collections and University Archives, shared how the special collections Tumblr operates as an umbrella for four others, all of which focus on specific collections within the library. Theisen also commented on how her library’s Tumblr success has led to much more foot traffic in the library, both from people within the community as well as outside the state. She echoed Stade’s sentiment that having an open and accessible special collection is important. 

Katie Anderson runs the Tumblr for Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers University. She has noticed that many libraries don’t have questions enabled on their Tumblr blogs and that even fewer accept submissions. These are missed opportunities, she said, to connect with our communities. 

Rachel Dobkin, coordinator of the Government Info/Docs Student Interest Group, spoke about how every librarian is a government information librarian, and she strives to engage users with timely posts that highlight government documents related to current holidays, heritage months, etc.

Daniel Ransom runs a Tumblr that mixes his professional interests with his personal ones. Ransom said he was drawn to the platform because he saw it as an alternative to Twitter and a place where character limits did not define engagement. Ransom highlighted the importance of tagging your posts so that those in related communities who may not follow your blog are able to find their way to your content. 

Finally, Molly Wetta spoke about how her Tumblr for the Lawrence (Kans.) Public Library has engaged many teens in the local community. Wetta uses the social media platform to focus on readers’ advisory that’s a bit outside the box. She recently gathered materials about women in art to serve as a companion to a local young women artists show. 

It was great to hear from a variety of tumblarians about the Tumblrs they run. If you’re interested in getting involved on Tumblr personally or professionally, I recommend jumping in. I have found the community to be incredibly welcoming and encouraging. Plus we throw a mighty fine conference party. I hope to see some new blogs on the #tumblarian tag soon.

JENNIFER PETTI is a recent Kentucky graduate. You can find her shelving books in Seattle, as well as tweeting and tumbling @sassafrassj.

See, hear, and read more about what’s going on at Annual—in real time and after.

Twitter: @alaannual and #alaac14
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/489205011101981/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AmLibraryAssociation
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/groups/alaac14/
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/alaannual/
Tumblr: http://ala-con.tumblr.com