Monday, April 21, 2014

Tumblr for Libraries: An Outline & An Interview

Presentation Outline
1. Introduction

  • What is Tumblr
  • The How of Tumblr
    • Posting
    • Liking
    • Reblogging
    • Tagging/Tags
2. Tumblr as a Promotional Tool: The Good and the Bad
  • Why It Works
    • Easy to create/post content
    • Ease of use 
    • It's informal/casual
    • It's what's current, it's where the people are
    • Reblogging Function
    • The use of tags
    • Ability to connect a wide range of voices
  • Where it Stumbles
    • Communication is primarily one-way
    • Not the first place where patrons check for their information
    • Some blog themes are better for library tumblrs than others, and there isn't enough information
3. Tips for A Successful Library Tumblr

4. Why Use Tumblr?
  • Good informational tool to direct patrons to
  • Future of social media/networking


I had some major scheduling issues for my interview, but last week I was finally able to get a hold of a librarian using Tumblr as a promotional tool in a public library.  This librarian works in Arlington, MA, and works in children's services.  She is the one who decided to start a Tumblr for the Children's Section of her library, and is the librarian who updates the blog.

For the most part, she was very enthusiastic about the use of Tumblr for her library.  She identified Tumblr as the future of social networking, and had a lot of great things to say about how easy it was to create content with this particular technology.  One claim she made that really struck me was that if you have a blog, you have to be willing to update it very frequently if it's going to serve any useful purpose as a social marketing tool.  She told me that previously, she had been using a Wordpress blog as part of the library's outreach to patrons, but because she felt that the idea of updating it was daunting (because it seemed to demand long, thought-out posts) she only ended up creating content twice a month.  Tumblr, on the other hand, lends itself easily to snippets of content, and therefore updating it more than once a week - even daily - is not as difficult a task.  She also appreciated how it could be updated from multiple platforms (she works at two different libraries, and so is often moving back and forth between them).

Most of her concerns had to do with the failure of Tumblr to adequately explain certain aspects of itself, especially when it came to the themes you can choose when setting up your Tumblr.  She expressed disappointment in how the theme she had chosen for her blog poorly displayed links, as well as hiding tags.  (And since Tumblr's tagging system is one of it's key features, that's a pretty big drawback for a theme).  Her suggestion was that there be a clearer discussion of the drawbacks of particular themes.  She also stated that Tumblr doesn't explain itself particularly well.

Overall, she did say that using Tumblr as a promotional tool, she became aware that she wasn't necessarily reaching the people that she thought she'd be reaching - i.e, her patrons specifically - but was still supportive of the idea of Tumblr being used by librarians as an outreach tool for their libraries.

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