New York Public Library


The New York Public Library (NYPL) doesn’t have any direct social media links on its homepage. Instead the user can either click on the “Connect” banner (see above) and then scroll to the bottom of the page to find the social media icons or click on “Connect with NYPL”  and then select from either the icons or the font links. Their homepage is very minimalistic (having very little actual information) which is aesthetically pleasing but not neccessarily all that useful. I think it would benefit the NYPL to put direct links to their social media platforms on their homepage, but then again maybe they don’t need to given the large number of people already connecting with them through social media.

Their YouTube channel has almost 2000 subscribers and their videos have been viewed more than 880, 000 times which is especially impressive considering that they only have 288 videos (if you do the math this means that their videos are even more popular than the massive Library of Congress!). Why are their videos so popular? They aim to entertain as well as educate and promote the library. For example, the series “Live from the NYPL Conversation Portrait” combines snippets of the audio from talks given at the library with amusing cartoon-like drawings, making them more appealing to youth (and people like me!).


The NYPL is part of The Commons project on Flickr. As I mentioned in my last post, The Commons was designed for photo archives to expose their collections to the masses and get help describing those images via tagging and comments. The NYPL’s images are attracting a lot of viewers and comments. They took a slightly different approach to The Commons than that of the previously discussed Library of Congress as described in this quote from their Flickr profile:

NYPL librarians have already spent a ton of time describing many of these photos, particularly with subject headings that relate the contents of the images. Rather than discard this information, we’ve added a selection of these headings, repurposed as tags, as a nucleus for everyone else to build from. The hope is that this will stimulate rather than stifle activity on the Commons, with librarians and non-librarians collaborating on the description of this material. There are also a couple of instances — the sets of cinematic images of 1912-14 and 1915 — for which significant amounts of data are missing. Little is known, for example, about the identities of actors and other artists and technicians involved in these films. Perhaps the early cinema buffs among you can help shed light on these photographic mysteries. We look forward to collaborating with you.

In addition to the excerpt above their profile also includes and introduction to the NYPL and the Commons, links to their image sets, the NYPL Digital Gallery, and the NYPL website.  They also provide information on historical sources and image reproduction. The NYPL has also joined several non-libary groups on Flickr – helping them broaden their contacts by showing interest in other people’s’ images.

Another way in which the NYPL s using visual social media is in its use of Pinterest. Pinterst is essentially the digital equivalent of a good old-fashioned pin board. The NYPL has 18 boards including a board for their collections, what they’re currently reading, a picture of the day, their current events, photos of the NYPL, their gift shop and much more. Each of these boards has approximately 2500 followers. Each board has items, which are essentially images with a little bit of accompanying text, pinned to them. The NYPL links each of these items to relevant information on their website so that users can find out more about each item as they are interested. The NYPL is the only library I’ve seen thus far that’s using this technology to connect with patrons. I should also note that they’ve cleverly capitalized on the popularity of the BBC miniseries Downton Abbey by creating a board called Downton Abbey where they have pinned a collection of images from their digital collection that depict early 20th century Britain as it appears in the series. Take a look at the screenshot of their main Pinterest page below.

NYPL Pinterest

As you can see the NYPL is doing a great job of using visual social media tools. If I had to make some suggestions for improvement I would suggest that they take a look at Beth Hayden’s blog post  “56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest.” Hayden makes some interesting suggestions, many of which could be applied to libraries (after all they are still businesses!). One of the ideas that I especially like is a moderated board for fans to express their support and pin videos, blog posts, and photos from events. A similar ideas was expressed in the blog post “20 Great Ways Libraries are using Pinterest” on; the writers suggest creating collaborative boards:

Pinterest provides a way for libraries to interact with those in the community, sometimes in very fun and creative ways. Take the St. Johns County Public Library System. They created a public board called “reading pets” and asked patrons to submit pictures of their pets “reading” their favorite books.

Fun, interactive challenges are always a great way to get people interested in libraries. Another great idea from the same article is to use Pinterest to help library patrons create book clubs by providing links to book club kits. Clearly there are lots of great ways that Pinterst can be utilized by libraries such as the NYPL.


Posted on April 9, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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