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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Trending: Pinterest

One of my students, Ally, decided to try out Pinterest for her final project.  She focused on how to use the popular new social media site with a RA focus.

Before I go further though, I do want to include Ally's intro into what Pinterest is and her glossary of key terms:

"Pinterest is a visual-based social networking site. ...Users can “pin” images of things that interest them to different boards that they create. They can also “browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things,” and repin, like, and comment on pins posted by other users.  ...here are some terms to know:
Pin: “an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website using the Pin It button, or you can upload images from your computer.  Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the site it came from” (Pinterest).  For readers’ advisors, a pin will be the book cover which links back to the catalog page. You can also pin videos, such as book trailers, to Pinterest.  Just be sure to give credit where credit is due.
“Pin It” button: “Once installed in your browser, the ‘Pin It’ button lets you grab an image from any website and add it to one of your pinboards.  When you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator” (Pinterest). Not only does installing this function to your web browser make pinning easier and more efficient, but it also helps funnel the users into the library’s website by linking to the title’s catalog page. 
Board: “a board is a set of pins.  A board can be created on any topic...You can add as many pins to a board as you want” (Pinterest). For readers’ advisory purposes, a board is what contains the titles in a book display or readalike list.
Following All: This “means you’ll have all of a user’s pins on all their boards shown to you in real-time on Pinterest. If the user makes new boards, you will automatically follow them.  You can follow individual boards if you’re only interested in seeing a user’s pins to specific boards” (Pinterest).  Users who follow the Library’s Pinterest boards will see the library’s pins in real timewhen they view the “Pinners you follow” screen in their account. They can view all of the library’s boards and pins by opening the library’s Pinterest page.
Feed: Runs in real time, meaning that as soon as you pin an image, it will instantly appear in your followers’ feed.   

So there's a primer on Pinterest.  After studying and using the site, Ally realized it could be used in much the same way as a librarian would create and use a display. She chose books for her boards using the same tools she would have used to create a physical display.  Then instead of filling physical shelves of a display case, she pinned the covers of books to her virtual board.  Each cover links back to the library's catalog.

On Pinterest you are allowed 500 words to annotate each pin.  Ally chose to use an edited version of the NoveList description of each book (with credit to them) to promote the fact that patrons could use the database for themselves too and then added in some appeal terms to help a reader decide is the book is right for them.

Her conclusion about the process:

Pinterest is new, fun, addicting, and being used by millions of people.  Will it be the be all/end all of readers’ advisory tools on the web? Probably not, but for now it is a viable way to connect our patrons with books.  The key point to remember in using Pinterest as a readers’ advisory tool is to keep books at the center. Make sure there is a brief description of the title as well as appeal terms that our patrons can easily understand.  Also, make sure the pins link back to the catalog;  By linking back to the catalog, we make it easier for the patron to get a hold of a title that piques their interest (and helps increase our circulation!).   Happy Pinning!
Here is the link to Ally's Pinterest boards to see for yourself.

Ally's work here illustrates one of my favorite things about teaching library students.  They are always looking into the newest trends and teaching me about different ways of looking at the things I have been doing every day for 12 years.

I had already planned to survey Pinterest this summer and figure out how we could incorporate it into our work at the BPL.  As you know, I am a huge proponent of providing equitable RA service to both the physical and virtual library users.  So, I always evaluate new technology based on this ideal.  After reading Ally's paper, I realized that Pinterest fits into our work at the BPL seamlessly.

We already post our annotated lists for our current physical displays on our website here, and then archive them after the display comes down here.  But, a Pinterest board might be a better way to bridge the physical-virtual divide than what we are currently doing.  We could pin the covers of the books from our annotated lists and then use the annotations someone already wrote to make a virtual mini-display.  We have already done the work as a staff, pinning the board is simply a matter of cutting and pasting.

In other words, in a matter of 10 minutes I can take the work we are already doing and make it stand out more.  I have added very little extra work and I am still keeping the focus on finding my patron their next good read. This is great!

Thanks Ally.  This summer, I will be adding a Pinterest component to the other great work we are doing to bridge the physical virtual divide over at the Browsers Corner.  I can't wait to get started.

For more on my mantra of bridging the physical-virtual divide, please see my Ten Rules of Basic RA Service.

And for more Trending posts, click here to access the archive.

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