Social Media for Beginners

From the Huffington Post

From the Huffington Post

Libraries have always held a certain fascination for me. Growing up, I always looked forward to Wednesday nights, when my mother would bundle us kids into the car and take us down to the local library where we would spend hours searching the stacks for that week’s new book. As I got older, the library continued to be an important focal point for me and my friends. We attended lectures, caught some classic films, and even held our club meetings there. I got a lot of value out of that library, and though I now live in a different city, I still make it a point to visit my local library as often as possible. But things aren’t quite the same as they were when I was a kid. Today, life has more distractions, and librarians need to find new ways to reach out to their patrons, and to connect with their communities. That means launching a vigorous publicity campaign, and that’s where social media comes into play.

Social Media – Taking Your Message to the People
As a librarian, you want to reach out to as many people as possible in order to promote the services and activities offered by your library. Now, most libraries operate on a tight budget, which makes it difficult to launch a typical publicity campaign. But social media offers an inexpensive and highly effective way to publicize your library. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the new social centers, with people of all ages participating in these online communities. This offers an untapped reservoir for librarians. Not only can you promote your library, but you can engage directly with your patrons. All with the click of a mouse. While there are many different social media sites to choose from, let’s look at a few of the most popular and how you can use them to publicize your library.

Where social media is concerned, Facebook is top of the heap. Even big businesses use it to connect with their customers and to promote their brands. Your Facebook page can be an online gathering place for you and your regular patrons. You can use it to create interest in your library by promoting upcoming events like a guest speaker or summer film series. You can regularly announce new arrivals, and take requests for specific titles. You might even use your Facebook page to encourage a reading group by publishing a regular reading list. Properly leveraged, Facebook can both publicize your library, and create a vibrant online community. Best of all, Facebook is free, making it a perfect fit for small libraries on a tight budget.


Twitter is second only to Facebook in popularity, and offers a valuable avenue of publicity for your library. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so you can’t get terribly in depth with your posts, but it is still a great way to connect with patrons. You can post announcements about new titles and upcoming events, links to local or national news stories, or simply tweet a daily joke to brighten your followers’ day. As your number of followers increases, and more people interact with your posts, your library’s online profile will grow. Again, like Facebook, Twitter is free.

You might not think of YouTube as a social media site, but it has many followers and devotees. Creating a YouTube channel for your library is a good way promote, and archive, special events. For example, if you have a popular author coming to town for a reading you might video tape the event for later publication on your YouTube channel. People who were there for the reading can relive the event, and people who haven’t visited your library can see what they’ve been missing. Creating a YouTube channel is free, however you should be careful about securing rights to anything you might choose to post. Also, don’t forget to cross-promote your YouTube channel on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Social media is a great way to promote any business, but is particularly well suited to publicizing local libraries. After all, a good library thrives on building a community, and social media is all about communities. However, whatever social media outlet you choose to publicize your library, it is important to remain consistent. Regular updates are a necessity, and you want to be sure to post news and updates at regular intervals. For your social media publicity campaign to be effective, it must be ongoing. The time you invest will be well rewarded.

Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from and you can reach her at



Non-public librarians: beating the summer blues

activities-to-fight-summer-boredom-mainphotoOh, to be a public librarian in the summer: summer reading programs, events, kids out of school and flooding your cool library! I know public librarians aren’t all starry-eyed over summer, but they are never bored. While academic, school, and other librarians are still working over the summer, there is often something lacking. Our programs are not as needed, our patrons have abandoned us for internships and vacations. Things are downright slow and the usual hullabaloo that gives us energy is gone. It can be all too easy to feel unneeded, blue, unmotivated to work on those projects we put aside until summer. So, what’s a non-public librarian to do in the summer months if one is on a 12-month contract (or is a school librarian, because teachers don’t really get a summer break)?

First, be kind to thyself. You will have days during which you slog through and feel accomplished for having completed one, simple task. You will have days during which all you want to do is watch the entire “Weird Al” video catalog. I schools-outknow, because these have been my days. I am a librarian energized by my interactions with others; most outreach librarians are such people.

Second, be very clear about what you want to accomplish REALISTICALLY over the summer. Keep your to-do list in a prominent place. Mine is on the white board in front of my desk. Really, this part is simple list-making. The hard part is summers mostly full of planning rather than implementing.

Third, take advantage of this slow time to work on intentional outreach. Be deliberate about this next period of service will look like, how you will assess it, how you will reach patrons.

Fourth, start meeting ASAP with potential partners. They will try to make you wait until late-July or August. I’m telling you this because I did NOT do this and I know the excitement around planning programming and services with partners is energizing, inspiring, and helps me keep my To-Do List on track. Learn from me.

Fifth. Get up. Go work someplace other than your office. Preferably a place that has people or at least reminders of your patrons. For me, this is our university center which is much like the student union on most campuses.

While these sound simple, the hard reality of quiet summers meant for project work can be hard. It’s often uninspiring. If these simple tips did not make you feel much better about your sluggish approach to summer work, hopefully these highlights of some of my plans for next year will get you excited:

  1. Focus on our commuter students through regular office hours in the student commuter lounges. We’re also working with a commuter student leader to create a bulletin board on using library resources off-campus in the commuter student lounges. We’re putting on special library orientations for commuters and working with commuter students to determine services we can provide them in their spaces.
  2. Focus on first-gen students by hosting regular office hours in spaces we know they frequent, including doing quick “Hi, we’re librarians, these are our  smiling faces and here’s how we can help you” drive-bys.
  3. Working with local public schools on opportunities for young writers including publishing stories in our student publications and workshops with local authors.

I wish I’d started meeting with partners sooner in the summer. The thrill and internal push I get from planning, brainstorming, and working with others truly turns summer from a time of doldrums to a time of reinvigorating myself as an outreach librarian. While I wish summer were a time of reading the days away for me, it’s really a time to reflect, refresh, and reconnect. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I need to make it that way.


Survey on oral history: seeking all librarians

During ALA I met University of Missouri MLIS student Jeff Corrigan who would LOVE if you could take 3 minutes of time to fill out his survey on oral histories. Any librarian qualifies to fill it out. Thanks for helping a future colleague, readers!

Outreach to overlooked populations: Reaching teen parents

Over 300,000 babies are born to teen parents each year in the United States. Although the teen pregnancy rate has dropped in recent years, it still remains higher in the U.S. than in other western industrialized nations. The CDC estimates that only 50% of teen mothers will graduate from high school; their children are also less likely to graduate. Further, teen parents are statistically more likely to be unemployed or incarcerated.

Teen parents are an important population to work with because of those risk factors. Encouraging mothers to focus on their education helps them and their children. Heather Novotny, who helped organize the event, says “there is the powerful opportunity to impact two generations at once. We want to support them both as teens and as parents.”

Attendees choose books to take home to enjoy with their children

Attendees choose books to take home to enjoy with their children

On May 30 Salt Lake County Library Services partnered with the Granite School District Young Parents program for a “Teen Parent Picnic” to serve this at-risk population. About 30 young parents and their families came to the library to sign up for library cards, participate in storytimes, have snacks, and learn about the library. Each young family took home free children’s books and other materials donated by the library and the Assistance League of Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake County Library has partnered with Young Parents since late 2012, providing books and early literacy materials for the Young Parents program. Both sides wanted to expand the partnership. Nikki Gregerson, a librarian with Granite School District, wanted to encourage mothers to sign up for library cards. She knew that many teen moms did not have library cards, and several had never visited a public library. They were unaware of library resources available to them.

Salt Lake County Library Services and the Granite School District developed the Teen Parent picnic in response to this need. The goals of the event were to:

  • Make the teens feel welcome and special in the library
  • Sign the teens up for library cards
  • Help the young families become aware of library resources
  • Have them participate in a storytime and learn early literacy skills they can use at home

storytime 4At the picnic, the young parents were greeted with goodie bags containing nursery rhymes, some toys, and information about the library. They were all invited to select several new books to take home. Snacks were served, and the families and children were entertained by two storytimes. David Bird, a librarian with Salt Lake County, gave his storytime in Spanish. He spoke about his role as a parent, and introduced early literacy practices based on Every Child Ready to Read.Chalk drawing with kids

The families were able to chat with the librarians in a relaxed environment, and get answers to their questions about the library. Pictures were taken around the room with photo props. Several mothers signed up for a library cards, and one mother looked into job resources.

Both partners felt the event was successful. Susan Jeppesen, a youth services librarian with Salt Lake County, said she was “thrilled at how excited the girls were about coming to the library and helping their children…I felt like we made some important ties to a group in the community we hadn’t really reached.”

Nikki Gregerson said that her “favorite part of the event was that the young parents got to see that it is okay (and encouraged) to be silly with their child.  By demonstrating ways to sing, read, play, speak, and write, the parents were able to see ways in which they could develop those skills with their children at home.”

Librarian partners sharing resources and knowledge to reach teen parents

Librarian partners sharing resources and knowledge to reach teen parents

Carrie, Nikki, Heather, and Susan plan to continue reaching out to teen parents in the future. “We want to support these parents in their goal to raise successful children by offering them access to tools and resources” said Novotny, “and we also want to promote the lifelong habit of library use.”

Carrie Rogers-Whitehead is the Senior Librarian for Teen Services at Salt Lake County Library. She is known for her work with special and overlooked populations including young patrons with autism, refugees, and incarcerated youth.

Timely Annual session for instruction librarians

block buildingJoin us for the ACRL Instruction Section Annual Program. This is especially pertinent with the proposed new IL standards!

From Stumbling Blocks to Building Blocks: Using Threshold Concepts to Teach Information Literacy Sunday, June 29, 2014, 1:00pm to 2:30pm Las Vegas Convention Center S219
Featuring speakers Amy Hofer, Korey Brunetti, and Lori Townsend

Over the past decade, the “threshold concept” has emerged as a valuable tool for educators seeking to improve teaching and learning in higher education. The term refers to the core ideas and “ways of thinking and practicing” that are characteristic of a discipline but that students often find difficult to grasp. This program explores ways that librarians can use the threshold concept model to make information literacy instruction more relevant, meaningful, and exciting to students.

Your back pocket

1What is in your back pocket?  I don’t mean gum or lint.  I mean, what tools or skills do you have that you can use at a moment’s notice?  When I was growing up, I was serious about acting.  Constant advice to all of us theatre kids was to “always have a few monologues in your back pocket.”  That way, if the director wanted to hear something else, we could showcase our preparedness and versatility.

2When I interviewed for the position in Las Vegas that eventually led to this career, there was a section that tested candidates’ flexibility.  First, they asked how I would showcase books about a non-fiction topic in a program for school-aged kids.  After answering that, the interviewers threw me a curveball.  How would I change that program on the spot if preschoolers showed up for it instead?  I was going to use butcher paper to make a giant volcano as a side-view with Earth’s layers visible.  Once the younger set arrived, though, I was going to shift from facts to imagination by leading a sensory-filled description as we took a hike through the various strata.  (Example: “Ooh!  Tiptoe quickly.  This magma is hot!”)  I didn’t preplan any of this.  It has been a decade since the interview.   With all that I have forgotten, somehow that stuck.

While the program that I planned was not in my back pocket, several parts of it were.  I had created displays with butcher paper when I was a dorm resident assistant.  I had read several non-fiction books with fascinating illustrations of Earth’s layers.  My childhood was rife with imagination games. I remember taking a movement class in preschool where we were supposed to move as if the floor was coated in honey.  See? I pulled from a pocket filled with experiences that were useful in that specific situation.

Improvisation is not just a specialty for actors.  There is a reason that library conferences host Battledecks competitions.  It isn’t just because seeing the “Hey girl…” memes while hearing librarians giggles is a riot.  (Though that, too).  It is because, as much fun as thinking on your feet is, it is also an essential skill for us.

This morning, my colleague, Clare, realized that she had double-booked herself.  She asked me if I could cover her story time for a visiting Pre-K group.  I agreed.  This was at 9 a.m.  The group arrived at 10:15 a.m.  My colleague had prepared a craft and selected books based on the teachers’ requested theme.  However, it was up to me to find some “back pocket” linking songs. I had to find appropriate ways for kids to vocalize and to move.

3The theme was “Community Helpers in the Library.” “If you’re happy and you know it…” became “If you love the library and you know it…”  We did the American Sign Language (ASL) sign language for “library.” One of Maisy’s friends in Lucy Cousin’s Maisy Goes to the Library, sings “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.” So, we sang that song and did the accompanying movements when the book was done. I also couldn’t find a CD that features the library songs that I wanted.  So, I did a chant/rap in call and response style. All along, the stories were participatory. Kids repeatedly crossed their arms and said, “I don’t want to!”–the refrain from Beatrice Doesn’t Want To by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Lynn M. Munsinger.  They roared like lions during Library Lion by Michelle Knudson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

Guess what?  My “back pocket” is not only stuffed with stories and songs.  I also have a bit of academic know-how there.  The American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read served as my guide.  Once they drew on Clare’s lion-mask craft, the kids had participated in all five types of activities with me (talk, read, sing, play, write).  Of course, there is still room there.  I constantly have more to learn.  A “back pocket” is ever-expanding.  What do you want to put in yours?


Your back pocket is:

  1. Always with you, wherever you go
  2. Available anytime anywhere
  3. Your repository of skills and knowledge

Your mission:

  1. Always keep filling that pocket.
  2. Use it.

*Many thanks to Clare Hollander for editing this blog.

With book and educator site 2013Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas and has worked for almost a decade in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri.  She earned the nickname “Jukebox Banana” because her “back pocket” in college was full of Broadway show tunes. Now, Anna Francesca shares this music with her seven-year-old daughter.  The girl prefers Kidz Bop.

Meet People Where They Are

It has been a long time since I was in school.  A LONG time.  Once, I was a great student. I would analyze texts and could put my opinions in written or oral form.  I took diligent notes and spent hours on homework.  This is not my approach now.  Not at all.

1To my surprise, that is a good thing. Some students are wary of the educational system at best.  They see libraries as something distant and not for them. When I recently went to an alternative program to meet with young adults, there was audible surprise when I said that I read with my daughter every night. However, one student was so interested in the graphic novel called Yummy: the last days of a Southside shorty that he checked it out right there.  I literally wrote down the information and input it into our electronic database after I returned to the library.

When I asked who used the bus, several of the students raised their hands.  I also asked who had smart phones and saw several hands. So, I talked up the Library’s offerings of streaming audiobooks, movies, and music.  Another person expressed her interest in cooking.  I am bringing cookbooks for next time we meet. The library has things that directly benefit their lives. My job is just to let them know.

No, none of these approaches will foster a love of Jane Austin or Charles Dickens. But bringing GED study books to these young adults and showing them how they can study on our Brainfuse and LearningExpress Library databases makes the Library relevant to them. People who never considered us before now take note. We have something for everyone—including them.

Mandala Marble Wrap Beaded Necklace: by flickr user “starsunflower” at

Mandala Marble Wrap Beaded Necklace: by flickr user “starsunflower” 

I am taking free Mozilla training. As I am starting to learn how to create things on the web, I find that I am drawn to tutorials. I want to DO something instead of being told how to do it. I never thought of myself as an experiential learner, but now I am. How many of our books and online resources have interactive practice tests? How many step-by-step, picture-heavy craft books do we have? When people want to fix cars, where can they find detailed diagrams of their vehicles? Right. The library. We have a plethora of tools for hands-on learners.

Yes, I love reading for fun.  I always am in the midst of a book (or two).  I realize, though, that this isn’t the reality for some of the people we serve. We do still serve them, though. How lucky we are to have the ability to show them that.


  1. Remember our non-fiction and electronic resources when serving patrons.
  2. Respect a variety of interests.
  3. Be ready to pair our offerings with the needs of hands-on learners.
  4. The library has something for everyone! Outreach offers a special opportunity to let people who wouldn’t otherwise use the library know that it does cater to them, too.

With book and educator site 2013Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas and has worked for almost a decade in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri. In terms of books with practical applications, those about ways to help the planet using the reduce-reuse-recycle methods are favorites for her seven-year-old daughter.


Summer reading outreach

"Summer Reading Program" by Alina Sysoeva

“Summer Reading Program” by Alina Sysoeva

Even if summer reading programming has already begun at your library, it’s never too late to promote this much-beloved activity. If your program (and librarians!) feel tired and in need of fresh outreach, we’ve got ideas for you from fellow citizens of LibraryLand.

Abbe Klebanoff, Head of Public Services at Lansdowne Public Library in Landsdowne, PA shared this fun promotional video they’ve used to promote their summer reading program.  I love how it promotes the LIBRARIANS as a resource as well as the summer reading program.  Very clever, Abbe and co.! Bonus: if your library checks out the equipment used to make videos, be sure to plug that. Perhaps you could do a video promoting eBooks as part of summer reading. Recruit patrons to help you make versions of videos in languages other than English commonly spoken in your community. AND, don’t forget to offer closed-captioning for videos.

imagesWhen I lived in Eugene, Oregon, the public librarians were fantastic about taking advantage of the summer festivals to promote their summer reading program.  Armed with crafts and sign up sheets, librarians were a fixture at summer concert series, neighborhood events, and city festivals. In getting out of the library and out to the public, Danielle Day, Youth Services Manager at Carnegie-Stout Public Library uses one of my favorite outreach tools: tabling at markets.  Market stalls are a cheap, high-impact way to reach an audience.

Liz Hoffman, Library Associate at Siouxland Libraries, wins big for her creative, easy outreach. She visited a local middle school and taught 400 6th graders how to make a dollar bill appear out of thin air, which she learned from a YouTube video. “We are holding a workshop this summer about illusions, and the teens will be learning a few basic magic tricks. The dollar bill trick was the easiest trick from the workshop, and it made a great demonstration of the fun things you can learn at the library during the summer,” says Hoffman. Since doing the presentation, Hoffman notes an increase in the number of students from the middle school.

And finally, a quick word on outreach to underserved populations. Who are the underserved in your community? Here are a few ideas:

  • Pima County Public Library serves juveniles in a detention center through a summer reading program, among other programs
  • Group homes
  • Single mom/dad programs
  • Long-term hospitalized children
  • Young parent groups (check local high schools for programs geared towards student parents)
  • Military families
  • Families in shelters

Academic and school libraries: finals time outreach

Excuse us for republishing an older, if timely, post. We are busy working on new pieces, coming in the next few weeks.

It’s finals time around my school. I’ve heard from colleagues in Academic LibraryLand that many want to do finals week activities, but either don’t have the support, the time, or are just unsure of what to do.  In my experience, students appreciate even the smallest acknowledgement of the stress brought on by finals. Here are a few things I am doing this year or that my colleagues have done.

  • IMG_0758Elves on the Shelves: I had some leftover elves from a Hobbit event I just did.  I put them in various places around our library, focusing on spaces/places not often visited. I posted to our FB page and the Dean of Students FB page that whomever found the most elves and posted a photo of themselves on our FB page with said elves would win a gift card. Cost: $10 iTunes gift card. Already this has gotten lots of Likes and elves are disappearing like pizza in a dorm room.
  • PSAs: print off finals week tips on that neon paper you never use and post them around the library (don’t forget bathroom stalls- captive audience!).  Cost: the time it takes to Google “finals study tips.”
  • 96686723221242809_KqMWs0aq_cCrafting: I’ve mentioned multiple times here that crafting in libraries goes over like gangbusters. I’m hosting crafting in a library classroom for a few hours the night before finals begin. I collected old holiday cards from colleagues, old CDs, and purchased ribbon and glitter glue from Hobby Lobby on sale. Students can casually drop in and spend as much or as little time making a holiday ornament. It’s silly but also creative. Whereas study breaks like gaming or social networking can suck in students and get them off track, crafting keeps them engaged while using hand skills and thinking with other parts of their brains. Cost: $15 in supplies from craft store. Ideas for spring: friendship bracelets, photo frames for discarded CDs.
  • Puzzles: not the jigsaw type, but riddles and Rubik’s Cubes. Again the idea is to provide an engaging break that refreshes students and gets their brains working in different ways. Host a riddle competition or see who can put a Rubik’s Cube back together the quickest. You just need two willing students to compete and the energy should draw others in. You could do one on the hour and offer simple prizes, like use of a study room or table during the rest of finals week. Cost: nothing, the math department probably has these types of puzzles on hand and riddles are easy to find online.
  • FOOD! Working with student government, our library provides coffee and cookies to students nightly during finals week. I know a number of academic librarians have plans to do the same. If you have a no food/drink policy, consider partnering with an organization to host this in the student union or other common area. We plan to use a classroom to try to control where food and drink are consumed. Students really appreciate this. Cost: $25 for hot cocoa and cups from price club.
  • Relaxation Room: Got classrooms or other bigger spaces? Create a chill out room. Get a student org to host activities such as meditation or yoga. Or just play some Enya, dim the lights, and put videos on of ocean waves and forests. If your library will allow, burn some aromatherapy candles. You might not get a lot of takers, but it will incite conversation!
  • Let’s Go Crazy: A colleague of mine shared that one student org has a long tradition of hosting a 15 minute rave in the library during finals week. Students look forward to it because they never know WHEN it takes place. Consider inviting student groups to offer similar, short, unexpected activities during finals week.

Whatever you offer, cross-promote with the Dean of Students office, residence halls, and student organizations. Consider you might have to actively recruit the first few participants, but once activities get going, they usually gain momentum.  Finals week activities allow us to connect to students in new ways that show we care. Call me corny, but isn’t that part of why we all do this?

Advocate for libraries virtually: Library Legislative Day


From the ALA Washington office:

This week marks the 40th Annual National Library Legislative Day. Hundreds of library supporters from all across the country will convene in Washington DC where they will be briefed on legislative issues affecting libraries and will meet with their legislators to discuss them.

Even if you can’t make it to DC, you can still advocate for libraries by calling or emailing Congress as part of Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD). All week long (May 5-9), library supporters can let their legislators know just how important our nation’s libraries are to the communities they serve.

This is an especially important time to speak up for libraries as Congress continues to make cuts that impact libraries. Here’s how to participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day:

Email Congress

To email your legislators, see the alert page and edit the message already started for you.

Call Congress

To call your Members of Congress, go to the VLLD alertat the Legislative Action Center (LAC). After reading the issue briefs, head back to the LAC homepage and enter your information into the “Find your Officials” box.

For more information, head to the official VLLD page sponsored by United for Libraries, ALA Chapter Relations Office, ALA Office for Library Advocacy and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).