Every so often, a new social media site starts to make the rounds on the hype circuit. The latest of these is a new service called Pinterest. Pinterest is still in beta, and is currently invite-only. However, despite this, it made Time’s 50 Best Websites of 2011 list.
Pinterest is an interesting tool, for sure. It allows you to curate (“pin”) pictures from around the web, for from other users, and organize them into themed collections and categories. While users can comment on their own and others’ pins, the appeal of the site is almost entirely visual. (I recently described it to someone as “image porn.”) Seeing the incredibly diverse number of things that people pin is fascinating, and I often find myself repinning (think of it as a form of sharing, much like reposting on Facebook) what others have pinned.
The number of uses and categories is seemingly limited only by your own creativity. While I often find myself wandering over to Facebook as a small break from regular work, I now have added Pinterest to my rotation of “stuff to look at for fun.” I anticipate that I will soon fill up my “Cool Ideas” board with stuff I find there. Organizing ideas, recipes, DIY projects and many, many more. I have found that I really love Pinterest, when I didn’t think that I would.
The point that keeps running through my mind is, though, “how would a LIBRARY use this?” To be honest, I don’t have a good answer. A library could pin book covers, but there’s no function that will allow you to link it back to its catalog. Local history pics might be kind of interesting but, again, no ability to link back to the library, or to related pictures. Pictures of programs aren’t really the right kind of content for Pinterest, which is primarily about pure visual appeal. However, I have seen some individual librarians make very good use of the site; book display ideas, teen program ideas and even a group board for library and information science, featuring cool libraries and library-related pictures.
What does this mean to me, Laura?
- All of your content is public and viewable to anyone. However, even when Pinterest goes public, the chances of someone seeing something you’ve pinned are fairly low (unless they specifically follow you); only items that get pinned by hundreds of people make the “Popular” board.
- Should your library run out and score a Pinterest invite? At this point, I’d have to say “no.” If your library wants to share pictures of things it’s doing, Flickr is a better fit. If you want to try it out though, I’m giving away invites to the first 5 people who comment (appropriately, people) on this post–don’t just holler “First!” Lameness gets you nada.
- Have ideas about how a library could effectively use Pinterest? Share!