We ran a working group of library staff for 12 weeks with a brief to explore Pinterest, engage with the Pinterest community, and evaluate Pinterest’s potential to help us deliver services and facilitate access to our collections.
Pinterest is a website that allows users to create virtual pin boards of their favourite images and to interact with other pinners and their selections.
Pinterest was chosen because it is a popular social media resource in the Australian community, with more than 630,000 people each month using it, there were other cultural institutions using it (eg. Europeana, Getty and British Library) and it seemed to be a good match for displaying the Library’s digitised photographs and other services.
There were a number of risks and issues we had to consider and manage, including copyright – we used photographs prior to 1955 which are usually out of copyright and images on publishers websites with a “Pin It” button indicating implied permission to pin images. We cited details of copyright owners and in some cases contacted copyright owners to ask permission to pin their images (eg Book Art). In representing the Library online we also consider our reputation – when choosing boards and accounts to follow and items to repin, we always keep in mind that this is an implied endorsement by the Library.
As part of the working group we established three accounts: one for most Library collections and services , and separate accounts for services that have specific client groups: Druginfo and Multicultural services.
We have pinned a variety of images and links to Pinterest, including:
- a “reading list” of books set, published or written in NSW
- our research guides and resources (including Family History and HSC students and teachers)
- links to Hot Topics and Find Legal Answers
- boards to support our exhibitions (eg Greatest Wonder)
- resources relevant to our learning programs (Seeking Shakespeare, Antarctica Uncovered, Early Explorers)
- images to showcase the Library spaces, services and environment
- boards showcasing many items from our collections
- of course, our mascot Trim has his own board!
We tried to promote the library spaces and services as well as collection items, expanding the ways we could use Pinterest. We also tried to challenge the stereotype that Pinterest was mostly of interest to women.
- The “group boards” feature in Pinterest allows multiple users to pin to a single board. We have extended an invitation to NSW public library staff to join our group board “Books in NSW”.
- We deliberately pinned library fan photos from instagram (we were inspired by the Insta-Getty board to try this idea)
- Repins from our boards continue to grow steadily to more than 1100 to April 2013.
- Our most popular board continues to be HSC resources, targeting high school students and their teachers.
- We monitored how many people interacted with our pins via liking, repinning and commenting. This helps us to estimate the return on investment for the time involved and the reach into the community.
- Team members wrote an article for ALIA’s Incite magazine about using Pinterest and Historypin for community engagement around the Library’s collections.
- With limited access to analytical tools to measure virality, we couldn’t measure how many times something that is repinned from our boards was repinned further. It would be interesting to know where some of our pins end up.
- We are continuing to use Pinterest in different ways and an interesting example is promoting the Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship.
Barwick, K. and A. Reddacliff, V. Tracey (2013 March) "Pin-pointing Communities: The NSW State Library's Innovation Project", Incite Volume 34 Issue 3 p. 22