Pinning for the Patrons

Photo by Jude Doyland

A few months ago a co-worker introduced me to Pinterest with the disclaimer that I would waste massive amounts of time on the platform once engaged. And they were right. I’ve spent a great deal of time collecting recipes I’ll never cook, outfits I’ll never buy and ideas to repurpose an old door that I don’t have. While some may see it as a waste of time, I enjoy the time I spend on Pinterest and it has prepared me for one of my new library job tasks: managing my library’s presence on the site. Admittedly, I’m still perfecting our approach, but I do have some tips that I’d like to share. (Check out this Pinterest 101 if you need help with some of the jargon below).

3 Ways I’m Using Pinterest At My Library:

1. Promoting New Acquisitions
Present day book covers are often works of art and they can whet a patron’s appetite for a new book. I have a board dedicated to new books and media acquired by my library. The goal is to provide a quick and easy way for patrons to visually browse new titles online and eventually draw them into the building.


  • Don’t expect to be comprehensive. Finding and creating pins for all new acquisitions is unrealistic. Give all departments and media types adequate representation and move on. Pinterest is likely to be one of many platforms in your social media mix, so no need to go nuts.
  • Pinning/linking to your online catalog is ideal as it keeps your library top of mind. If your online catalog doesn’t provide large enough images, Goodreads and IMDB are great backup sources for book and movie pins.

2. Creating Impromptu Micro Collections
Pick a topic, create a board, find ten relevant pins and you’ve got yourself a micro collection. When possible, I spend a few moments gathering pins for our patrons on a specific and often topical subject. For example, around Independence Day I created a board titled “Happy 4th” and pinned fourth of July recipes and crafts. In the midst of a heat wave I threw together a “Ways to Beat the Heat” board. Last week a librarian asked me to plug the @ Your Library “Step Up to the Plate” promotion on Facebook. I took it a step further and created a “Books and Baseball” board on Pinterest. I’ve added baseball themed pins, information on the promotion and baseball books from our collection.


  • Finding pins for these impromptu micro collections should be a bit easier–and may lead to a black hole of pinning. Have an idea of how many pins are needed and give yourself a time limit to manage your resources wisely. I usually try to put together at least 10 pins in about 15 minutes and then I move on.
  • Don’t repin blindly. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Pinterest isn’t a vacuum. It links out to blogs and websites. If you’re going to repin something for your patrons, click on the link to see where it takes you. Make sure you’re linking to quality and reputable sources.

3. Archiving and Sharing Library Activity
One of the boards I recently created is “On Display.” This board shows pictures of displays at our library. The goal of this board is to extend the reach and life of the display by drawing patrons into the library to check out some of the materials included in the display. The board also acts as an archive of displays we’ve done and can easily be accessed by other libraries collecting display ideas. I hope to create similar boards for library programs and storytimes in the future to engage patrons and share knowledge with other library professionals.

You may be in library school now–but the goal is to be the new kid on the block in a library soon. Having experience with social media platforms like Pinterest could be the thing that helps get your foot in the door. Some may see spending time on Pinterest as a waste…I see it as practice.

5 replies

  1. I think this is a really innovative idea! NYPL has a collection of pinboards that I follow–they’re inspiring and make me want to visit the library. Your ideas are clever!


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