When I say the word ‘Pinterest’ there are probably a good number of you who will smile, thinking of the many, many, happy hours you have spent pinning on your favourite device. Others will roll their eyes, having heard that Pinterest is a massive time waster and perhaps some of you will not know what I am talking about and are dreading hearing about yet another social networking tool you should be using.
Pinterest is an online pinboard and is used to collect images under certain topics of interest. You let Pinterest know what you are interested in, and it will show you images that it thinks you will like. You can see from this screen shot, that the Riverina Regional Library and its friends, like books and a bit of craft.
In the olden days, if you were renovating your kitchen, you might cut out all the pictures you like from a magazine and arrange them on a pinboard as a way of seeing all the kitchen ideas that you like together and, hopefully, inspiring your own kitchen design. Pinterest allows you to do the same thing online. You create a board called ‘Kitchens’, find all the prettiest images you like, either on Pinterest itself, or anywhere on the Internet, and pin them to your board.
Worldwide, there are 31 million unique users of Pinterest, 350,000 in Australia, and unlike Facebook, they are not predominately Gen Y. Pinterest is gaining in popularity and because there are so many people pinning, there are so very many topics covered.
Whatever you are interested in, you’ll find boards to suit. If you have brilliant taste and are into Jane Eyre, you’ll find, not only a huge number pictures to warm your heart, but each picture will provide a link. You will find all sorts of websites that relate to Jane Eyre, all brought together in the one place. People use it as a visual favourites list, a way of keeping track of things they have found that they will want to visit again, and as a way of exploring and sharing their passions.
There are, of course, lots of libraries who are using Pinterest to engage their communities. There are big libraries like the British Library, which uses Pinterest to highlight its own upcoming events, gifts and exhibitions as well as general library related things such as libraries in art and film and book art. Then there are regular public libraries such as Wagga City Library, which also uses Pinterest to highlight events as well as their different collections.
Reader’s Advisory is a perfect area of library work for using Pinterest. Just as introducing face out shelving boosts your circulation statistics, highlighting your collections in a way that uses book covers to their best advantage, can help people to find more books they want to borrow.
You can put all of your book club books onto a board. Lots of people like to read through a book club list and this is a great way to visually represent it. The Riverina Regional Library Book Club has all of its 162 books on the book club books board, and each is linked to their goodreads account, where it has been rated and perhaps reviewed. When you pin something to Pinterest, you can tell it which link you would like attached to the image. You could link book covers to your catalogue so that people can reserve books or see if they are on the shelf at your library.
You can have genre boards such as this fantasy one. This is a great way of getting different staff involved, using their own reading passions. When your customers find a board that interests them they can choose to follow that board and they can also repin the images onto boards of their own. This also works for your DVD and CD collections.
The 2013 Twitter Reading Group, Read Watch Play, is using Pinterest
You may feel like the number of social networking tools you are being pressure to use is getting out of hand, and that you really don’t have time to devote to all of them. Pinterest can be very easy – just add a Pin It button to your tool bar and you can quickly pin on the fly. Pinterest is also great because you can use other people’s work. Repinning excellent Reader’s Advisory pins, such as this 25 series to read if you loved The Hunger Games, is a good example. You can also link your different social networks, for example, when you pin something you can tweet it or like it on facebook. You can add new social networks without too much extra work.
Australians are social people and they are embracing social networking. There are, of course, good and bad things about everything and it helps to have guidelines in place when you use tools like Pinterest in your libraries. It does make things a bit easier if we use these tools in our personal lives, but we don’t have to be great social networkers at home, in order to reach our communities online as libraries. Our communities are there already and the tools work so well for Reader’s Advisory so let’s join them there.