Sunday, October 28, 2012

Flicking or Pinning

tag=blogposting week 10

As I've worked my way through this Web 2.0 class, I think I've become a cheerleader for the New York Public Library.  I've never been further east than Springfield, IL in my conscious life (I was born on an air base in Germany when my dad was in the US Air Force and stationed in Bitburg; I spent a glorious six months on European soil, turned 1 in New Mexico, but made all of my memories west of the Mississippi -- primarily in SD, WA, and CA), so I've never set foot on a single step of a single branch of NYPL.  I've never tried to ride a stone lion or tried to recreate scenes from Ghostbusters in the reading room.  But everytime I go to look at how libraries are using social media, NYPL seems to be absolutely on point, doing everything so right that it seems natural.  That's true also of their use of Flickr and Pintrest presences.  In the interest of not just promoting NYPL, though, I've decided to discuss a series of libraries here (in addition to NYPL). 

[Tangentially, my wife and I have not yet gone on a honeymoon -- we just celebrated our 3rd anniversary this week.  We want to go to Scotland.  But Maybe we need to go to NYC and spend a week at the library on our way.]


Okay, so as you can tell from the ringing endorsements above, the logical place to start talking about Flickr is the site of the New York Public Library. NYPL is just so astute at their use of images across their Internet presence.  They typically reserve themselves to posting images from their archives and they typically curate their posts well, presenting the most attractive photos.  One easy mistake to make would be to just throw all your photos on the web and force your community to slog through blurry pictures or shots that may as well be doubles.  We have to be constantly cognizant of the purpose of our online presence.  It's not just a place to unload our pictures and say, "see we're on the web."  NYPL's Flickr seems geared towards drawing patrons into the library to scour the archives for various research projects.  People interested in the history of auto companies, early modern dance, or cyanotypes of British algae may look at the page, realize that NYPL has images of these things in their archives, and run to the library to check them out (or find images they need right on the Flickr page).  The other thing that NYPL does as well as anyone could expect is that they fully dedicate themselves to their social networks.  In the case of their Flickr page they have some 30 albums, many with more than 100 pictures in them.  It's easy to immerse yourself in their pictures and spend some quality time on the site.

With their page Sacramento Public Library also highlights history.  In this case it's more local.  They have some archival photos of the library's book mobile.  It's not a terribly exhaustive set and it's probably not as useful to researchers as the photos on NYPL's site, but it's fun.  And Sacramento hits a few things that NYPL doesn't.  They have some photos of a program called the Read and Feed Garden.  They also have a photo set called Book Spine Poetry -- a fun idea whereby stacking books lines up the titles into a kind of found poem.  Photos of outreach and programming events is a great way to develop interest in your library.  The only knock against Sac Public's efforts is that their page seems a little skimpy.  More photos of more events would help make this page as amazing as NYPL's.

Combining the kinds of efforts seen on NYPL's page -- revealing your archive -- and Sacramento Public's -- showing off your programming efforts, developing fun photo project like the book spine poetry -- can provide a good model for a Flickr presence.


Today is actually the first time I've really looked at Pintrest.  I'm actually not thrilled with it.  It looks like an enormous glossy catalog.  Check out the presence of Westerville Library or Muncie Public Library, for instance.  In the first few lines of images on both pages, it looks like they are advertising products.  The cover photo for Westerville's A is for App album looks like an add for the iPad.  Muncie's page currently has an overturned bottle of red nail polish as the cover of their Go Cardinals! album that looks like it was plucked from a L'Oreal advert.  Very few of the pictures or album names seem specifically connected to the individual libraries.  Contrast that with New York Public Library.  The photos they've placed as the covers of their Pintrest albums and the titles of those albums are much more frequently connected to the library: What NYPL is Reading, NYPL loves U, Little Lions (a reference to the big stone ones out front of the physical library; the album is pictures of housecats looking lionish), NYPL Photos, NYPL Collections, and NYPL's Current Events.  Even when their Pintrest explicitly advertises products, they are connected to the library: NYPL Gifts.  To my mind, the lesson here seems to be that if you want to promote your library, it might be best to upload your own photos to the site instead of using public domain images that look like inadvertent advertisements and to be careful about naming your albums.  Connect them to your library.  It seems like Pintrest makes it easy to accidentally advertise other products; think carefully about what you want your Pintrest to say about you.

BTW, here's my entry for NYPL's little lion.

That's my cat: Syd Vicious.

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