When I got my first library card, the tunnel vision was very real. It only allowed me to see the library as the place “where the books lived” (love that Xander quote). I honestly don’t remember if Tiny Past Me noticed that they had anything other than children’s books at the time. I got it and ran to my section of the library. I’m sure that there were audio books, since those have been around forever. But since they never interested me when I was younger, I didn’t notice. Remember, y’all…tunnel vision.
Honestly, the only reason I knew that they had music in the form of tape cassettes (yes I’m old, leave me alone) was due to my sister borrowing one on an extended loan (read: stealing) from the Houston Public Library during the year we lived there.
I won’t tell you what tape it was though. I’m not a snitch.
Nowadays they do so much more, something I have expanded in my own love letter to libraries. One place that libraries have started to shine more brightly are on the various social media platforms. Most libraries have their own Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter, if not all three. They use these for any number of different things to help keep the love of the library alive. Whether it’s asking what you’re reading or advertising upcoming events, libraries and librarians are using social media to fully show all that a library can do to foster and maintain a sense of community.
One thing that readily comes to my mind when thinking of how libraries have used social media: to spread humor, and by extension joy. Even typos can or other misconceptions can be shaped into a something that is positively viral. An example of this is the whole snake/snack confusion that the Pflugerville Library had when advertising their Anti-Prom.
Another tweet from Pflugerville is this post showing how the chaos of the holidays bled over to a display. Other libraries also use and post pictures of their library displays, and is another way that librarians use social media. Type any adjective plus library display into a search engine for numerous examples. Trust me, you’ll be pleased with the results. This works as a lure to draw people into the library to check out the books in question. It also lets them show off their creativity. Factor in that it’s also a great way to recommend lesser known books? Fantastic! This is something that even is present in school libraries which is great for planting the seeds for young readers.
The reason these situations stand out to me is that they show that librarians are (gasp) actually human and have their own sense of humor. Most of the population still seems to think that librarians are either angry little old ladies or sexual temptresses in disguise. So it’s nice when they show their humor in these situations, or even the ones mentioned here.
They also use these to advertise craft nights that might otherwise be missed. I am a proud library patron, being signed up for emails from all four of my branches. Don’t judge me! Between all those, all other bookish newsletters, and other mundane emails I have to deal with? Things can get buried. So getting a notification on Twitter is super helpful in letting me know about something that I would enjoy that I might have otherwise missed. Such as was the case with the Wells Branch library.
Shortly before COVID-19 happened, they had sent out a reminder about making bookmarks out of book spines. Now, I know what you’re thinking and that some of you may shudder at the thought, but it was a really nifty idea and a lot of fun! Not only did I get to see two of my book club ladies in between meet-ups, but I got to get a cute gift to give my partner, who is turning into quite the book dragon as well. There was an intention to have a follow-up and use the pages for a wreath. Then the pandemic happened and we’ve been stuck inside ever since.
Speaking of COVID-19, libraries have been able to make the best of this sour situation by setting up online clubs. Whether it is for an author meet and greet or a recurring club that now has to meet digitally, they are actively working to keep those forged bonds secure. It takes effort and energy to set up these types of meet-ups in person, so I can only imagine the headache that it may be doing it through distance conferencing.
And they aren’t stopping there! They’ve kicked it up and have used those to advertise and start summer reading events. Just because we can’t (and honestly shouldn’t) be meeting in person for this doesn’t mean that kids can’t participate in reading for awesome prizes. In some cases the libraries also have an option for adults so we can get a chance to win prizes for doing something that we already love.
However, librarians also use social media to still help their patrons with the typical librarian things. They use these platforms to remember important moments in history and recommend nonfiction books for it. They will also have posts for February and May for Black History and Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month respectively. #AskALibrarian can also be for exactly what it says it is.
I know that a majority of my examples will come from my own local branches. Which isn’t to say that other libraries aren’t humorous since I know that this isn’t the case. In fact, we would love you to share, over on social media naturally, your favorite posts from your local library!