Pinterest for Libraries – what we’re doing

I recently helped set up a Pinterest account for our library (and by “help” I mean that I created the account. Most of the work so far has been done by Jeff Tate, our Digital Branch Librarian, and our fine group of staff participating in the pilot project).

What have we done so far? Here’s a list of our goals and process to date, and a list of a few “best practice” tips we’ve discovered along the way:

Goals and process:

  • Goal: focus on the library, on things our customers might be interested in, and on “local.”
  • Goal: focus on things that make people “click”
  • Goal for each board – at least 9 pins a week.
  • For staff – wear your “library hat” – think like “the library” rather than an individual when pinning something
  • We set up 16 boards for starters, each with at least one staff member in charge of it (most of the boards have a team of 2-3 staff).
  • The boards we set up, for the most part, match up to our neighborhoods in our physical library and on our website (we have grouped subject areas together into neighborhoods, i.e., the Travel neighborhood, the Cooking Neighborhood, etc. Each has a physical collection and a blog).
  • We will soon have a link to our Pinterest account from the main page of our website
  • Write a short, “tweetable” blurb for each pin you create.
Useful Tips:
  • I used a group email (we use Microsoft Exchange/Outlook for email) when setting up the account, and assigned everyone participating in the pilot project to the email group. That way, everyone sees likes, pins, follows, comments, etc  that happen in Pinterest.
  • When creating a new board, fill it up with 9 things – this way, the board doesn’t look “empty” [like my personal Pinterest account looks :-) ]
  • Pinning books from our catalog is great – but it’s also a multi-step process. First, you need to find a bookcover pic and Pin that (because Pinterest Pins focus on images). Once you have the pic, you can then add in the direct URL to the book’s catalog record.

That’s pretty much it. Pinterest is a very simple site … that has taken off like crazy! Like I said, this is a pilot project. Our plan is to use Pinterest for 6 months to see if it works for our library and for our customers. If there continues to be growing interest, we’ll go with it. If interest wains, we’ll kill the project.

More articles on Pinterest and libraries:

What’s your library doing with Pinterest? Let me know!

  • Juli

    I’m the Grand Pinner for my library system. We’re having consistent activity with our pins but I’m curious, how will you measure your pilot’s success?

  • davidleeking

    For now, we’re going to count the number of followers on the
    whole account and on each board, the number of likes, repins, and comments we get … and see if those numbers steadily grow. If, in 6 months or so, it’s still very active and has been growing, we’ll keep it up.

    So at this point, success equals steady growth. As Pinterest develops, we’ll have to see how we can better incorporate the tool with our library. Growth is great, actual engagement is even better.

  • Juli

    Just ran across this Pinterest traffic measuring tip on Mashable.

  • Ann

    How are you adding the direct URL to the library catalog? When I try it in our catalog it says the image is too small to pin.

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  • meghancnyc

    I’m the social media manager for our branch and our pinterest account is a work in progress, that’s for sure. Our library’s website just underwent a huge overhaul so I am finally able to pin from our OPAC. My co-workers are thoroughly uninterested, however. 

  • Terzah Becker

    Hi David! I’m the head of the Boulder PL social media team and am interested in piloting Pinterest here. However, we hear there are signficant copyright issues (mainly that crediting sources isn’t good enough because some sources don’t want to be “pinned” even with a credit–see this article How are you guys dealing with that issue?

  • davidleeking

    Simply stated, we’re not. We are pinning away, in hopes that pinterest itself figures out the copyright ramifications, and in the meantime having fun :-)

  • Krista R

    We have been using Pinterest for a couple of months now.  We are using it to Pin fun “book” links – book art, book crafts, libraries, a small number of “new books”, bookmarks, tech sites etc.  
    I have not been pinning large numbers of books for 2 reasons – 1. we have BiblioCommons which promotes our books very well, 2. as a avid Pinterest user personally, I get annoyed when a library I follow pins dozens of books at once, eating up my feed – especially when I’m browsing on my phone where there is a limited number of recent pins viewable.

  • Garrett Eastman

    Great article and links, David.  You might like to know of Abby Clobridge’s Pinterest board related to open access publishing

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  • Bblack

    Are you concerned about the Pinterest Terms of Service?  They use some pretty strong language about their “ownership” of what is pinned and their right to use, sell, etc.?  Not certain what we might put on our site but have concerns about use of abridging the rights of others by pinning them on our site.
    See more here:

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  • QLSteinway

    I really found your goals useful. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m in charge of my library branch’s Pinterest account. I started it and continue to maintain it. My library system has its own account, but I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of freedom in creating and maintaining our social media accounts at the branch-level. Here is a link:

  • davidleeking

    very cool – thanks for sharing!

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