When it comes to social media, I’m not the greatest advocate. Now, that’s not to say that I have anything against it. Quite the opposite, actually. I constantly check my Facebook account, and use it for both personal and professional needs. On one hand, I use it as a means to keep in touch with gal pals scattered across the world, from San Francisco to Mozambique. Professionally, it allows me to keep in touch with teachers I have worked for in the past, and functions as a medium to secure future substitute jobs. But up until recently, Facebook was really my only social media constant. I never felt inclined to open a Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc., because all my social networking needs were met by this one site. Why have multiple accounts on a variety of websites when the one does just fine and keeps me plenty busy?
However, I’ve recently become addicted to that young upstart. It has taken the idea of bookmarks to a whole new, social level. Not only do I have a visual database of interesting links, sorted into whatever categories make sense to me, but I can also view the collections of friends and colleagues. I can even find pages run by organizations I support and authors I loved.
Yup, you guessed it.
I’m a Pinterest junkie.
As someone who has always been more of a visual learner, being able to organize all my digital metadata into a visual database is perfect. No longer do I bookmark an interesting recipe, placing a brief line of text in a neat little folder within another little neat little folder within an unassuming icon on my browser, effectively putting it out of sight and out of mind. Now, I simply scroll through my board “Yum :d,” look for that one picture, and follow the embedded link to that delicious looking crockpot recipe for Lemon Garlic Chicken (tomorrow’s main dish at dinner). And it hold so much more than recipes. My largest boards are for crafts, sewing, fandoms, clothing, music, and food. It’s made me more organized, and constantly exposes me to new ideas and pushes me to think outside of the box creatively. I also follow some favorite YA author’s boards so I can keep track of their book recommendations.
Obviously, it’s a great tool for my personal life. However, I think it’s going to prove to be a great asset for libraries. Libraries can now create a visual database of information for their patrons to browse at will. Fliers for current events can be posted on one board, and images from recent events on another. Other boards could hold specialized information for different interest groups or to educate patrons about different events an issues, such as Black History Month or Women’s Suffrage.
Yes, all this can also be done on a blog, or through a website. Pinterest, however, allows these to each have their own unique space, and users can choose whether or not to follow specific boards. So rather than scroll through a list of facebook posts to look for relevant information, teens interested in YA fiction can follow the board specific to that topic. Their homepage, then, is filled only with relevant information that piques their specific interests. Book club members can keep in touch with each other by following and posting to a board specific to their needs.
Now, to be sure, ‘tags’ in blogs or #hashtags on Twitter allow for some filtering. Users can, potentially, sift through a large quantity of posts and pull out only pertinent information with relevant tags. But this is still more work than the Pinterest board method. Tags still require users to go from general to specific every time they go to the webpage. With Pinterest boards, all the relevant information is already sorted, no extra steps necessary.
A quick search on Pinterest already shows that many libraries are taking advantage of this excellent resource. I only hope my local libraries will jump on the bandwagon too!