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March 16, 2012 / Sarah Ludwig

Using Pinterest in school libraries

Pinterest is relatively new (it’s been around since 2009, and it started really taking off in late 2011, becoming a top ten social network in December). [source] The site is still in beta testing, which means that you need to get an invite to join – or, much more conveniently, you can log in using your Facebook or Twitter account.

I use Pinterest socially and personally, and I have to say it’s been an amazing tool for parenting resources, new recipes, reading suggestions, decorating ideas, etc. When I was at ALA Midwinter in January, presenting at YALSA’s Institute, my friend Linda Braun suggested in her own presentation that libraries should start using Pinterest to reach teens, and when I got back to Connecticut, I made an account for my library.

As you can see, I’m gearing my library Pinterest page toward students. Why? Because I think students might be more likely to use the site? Maybe, although most of the people I’ve seen using the site are adults… it’s mostly because right now, I’m reaching out to faculty in other ways — largely through email and, when it comes to virtual outreach. I’ve advertised the page to faculty, who may find items of interest on it, but my “collection development policy” is to curate materials of interest to our middle and upper school students. I mostly add resources though the “pin it button,” which makes it incredibly easy to pin, just like’s bookmarklet. Occassionally, I will re-pin things that I’ve found on others’ boards – I follow 68 other accounts as of this writing, most of them librarians, ed tech teachers, or public and academic libraries.

I launched the boards officially as part of Teen Tech Week 2012, though I’d spent a few weeks pinning things in order to have a nice collection for the students to see when I shared it with them. There a several book-related boards, which highlight new titles, books to add to the collection, book trailers, and other notable materials (I made sure to pin all of the books I booktalked to the middle school before spring break). In addition, I’m pinning research and technology-related articles and websites, potential library programs, and “things to love,” a collection of random images, quotes, and funny things related to the library and technology.

(Neat side note: I’ve started adding brief reviews to the books I’ve pinned and read, which is a quick and easy way to share recommendations without having to blog about the books.)

Ultimately, I want all of these boards to be collaborative. That means that anyone can add pins to them. Unfortunately, Pinterest’s methods for creating collaborative boards aren’t great. The only way to do it is to invite specific users — in other words, you can’t just make them public and open like you can with Google docs. The most frustrating thing about this is that first you have to get your students to sign up for a Pinterest account, and then you have to add them, via email, to your board. It’s cumbersome, to say the least. To see an example of a collaborative board, visit my Teen Tech Week 2012 board. The icons along the top are the collaborators.

As I wait for collaboration to become a bit easier, I’m going to continue using Pinterest as a place to share resources. I’ve advertised it using our school’s intranet and the library’s fledgling Twitter account, but I definitely need to keep promoting it if I expect my students to use it. This includes adding it to our LibGuides landing page, a project I’ll be working on this summer. And, I have to keep planting the seeds for students to join Pinterest in general, because it’s so awesome. (Another side note: one place the library really should be as well is Tumblr, since we have a highly active group of students using that site.)

For more resources on libraries using Pinterest, check out:

If you’re using Pinterest and want to share any ideas about its uses for school libraries, please comment! And if you’re a school librarian using Pinterest for your library, please add yourself to this Google doc.


Leave a Comment
  1. Nikki Robertson / Mar 18 2012 9:31 am

    I love using Pinterest for my school. I’ve added the link to our Pinterest boards to our main Moodle page:

    One of our phenomenal art teachers is using collaborative pin boards with his art students:

    I’d love to collaborate with you on your library pin boards : )


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