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Social Media And Special Collections

Social Media And Special CollectionsMixing the Old and the New

Promoting Use and Access in Special Collections

Hi everyone, Im Emily Newman and Im here to talk to you about Special Collections and Social Media Sharing! Consider this your crash course , all the basics you need to know in 10 mins.1

About Me

Graduate of Queens UniversityBAH in History and Classics 14Former QUL student assistant at Lederman Law and the Queens Learning Commons

University of Toronto iSchool Current Student (16)Library & Information Science Archives & Records Management

Working at: University College LibraryGerstein Science Info CentreJohn M. Kelly Library Rare Books

What I Love: Rare Books & Special CollectionsSocial Media & CommunicationsCompletely unrelatedly, horses

Ok so first, a few things about me. Im a grad of Queens with a BAH in History and Classics, which is basically just more history. Ive been working in libraries since grade 9, working at various Queens libraries through Highschool and Undergrad. I came to Toronto to attend the iSchool in 2014, and have been working at a bunch of different libraries since. My favourite opportunity to date has been at the Kelly library, where I have worked with their special collections.2

The Stereotypical Special Collections LibrarianThe Modern Special Collections Librarian

So, special collections and social media. We all know the stereotype, the librarian, old and dowdy, who doesnt get technology. Were going to talk about how that stereotype is changing and can be changed towards a social media savvy librarian.3

The Traditional Special CollectionSafeguarded content Cut off from public use unless in monitored reading roomRestricted access Risks: theft, damage, misuse, loss

In terms of special collections, content in the past has been kept away from public use, monitored, restricted, and generally kept safe. This is great, items dont get stolen, lost or damaged and the collection retains its value. But of what value is the collection if it isnt used by anyone?4

Todays Sharing Society

Today, we share everythingHow has this influenced libraries? Most libraries have social media accounts ranging from Twitter to Flickr.These accounts are so often underutilized! Libraries need, but often lack, dedicated staff for Web and Social Media.

Today: sharing is big (air B&B, carshare, etc) and libraries are jumping on the bandwagon. Most big libraries will have various platforms, although not all are used to their full potential. Special collections within larger libraries are also often passed over. Dedicated, social media savvy librarians are often lacked, but needed to promote a coherent message from each institution.5

Social Media to Promote Special Collections

Special Collections can use Social Media to: Attract users Promote collections, exhibits, events, etc. Expand accessConnect with other institutions

There are a number of benefits to pairing social media with special collections. Within academic settings especially, you attract students! As you all probably know, young ppl love social media.. Throw a few old book images into someones instagram feed in between the pumpkin spice lattes and the blanket scarf selfies, and you might just nab yourself a potential patron! Vintage is cool right now, we can take advantage of that! You can promote exhibits and events on sharing platforms as well, get people in the doors! 6

Library Wide Platforms

Libraries are starting to use Facebook and TwitterBut how can social media be harnessed for the Special Collection?

Answer: PROMOTION! Special Collections should use Facebook and Twitter as bait, to entice viewers to view larger parts of the collection on image platforms like

You can also connect with other institutions, see what they are doing learn what you could be doing, and promote yourself! Promote to other instutitions, to users, to donors, to sponsors, to those giving you your money (and its all free!), no advertising budget necessary!


The Advent of Flickr and Instagram

Image based sharing Flickr provides to opportunity to create sharable online exhibits, for free! Instagram allows libraries to connect, share and learn from with others in their community using hashtags.

One of the best things modern technology has done for special collections is hands down image based sharing. The two major platforms currently are Flickr and Instagram, as tumblr has slid out of the picture. These platforms have opened so many doors for use and access!8

Even the Smithsonian Does It

In addition to launching its own accounts, they also launched the Flickr Commons in 2012.The Flickr Commons is a place for Institutions from around the world to share content.The Smithsonian was really the Flickr library pioneer, using it not only to share but also as a way to store and display digitized materials.

No Meme here guys, its the Smithsonian. Have some human decency.

Flickr allows us to share single images, collections, exhibits, series, etc. online in albums. You can also link to your flickr page on your library website or catalog, allowing users another access point into the material.

A hugely popular example of library use of flickr is The Smithsonian and their Flickr Commons. Launced in 2012, the Smithsonian began their own flickr presence as well as the The Flickr Commons, a place for Institutions from around the world to share content.


#Specialcollections on Instagram

Connect with other special collections around the worldFollow hashtags #weekofROYGBIV#bookfacefridayPromote collections to the publicHave fun!

Instagram, in my opinion is where the real fun is to be had. Instagram allows us to connect with other libraries, get involved with a community, share with other users and see whats trending in the community. Hastag it up people! Some recent examples: #weekfofROYGBIV, where libraries posted pictures of books of a different colour each day all week; and #bookfacefriday, where people hold books with faces up to their own face and share the picture; or simply add to existing hashtags like #rarebooks and #speccoll. The main thing here is to share cool content and have fun! 10

More than Just Posting Pictures

You need metadata, cataloging information and access points!Save the image with a controlled name, use jpeg.In the image description: Link to the catalog record or your homepageUse hashtags for key wordsProvide contact info for your institutionLink to other material

So pictures are great, but were librarians, we need organization. Start off by creating a strategy for saving the image: where it will be saved and how it will be saved (file type, controlled name, etc). In the uploaded images description, link to the items catalog record, link contact information (an email) for those wanting to access the material posted, link to other similar material (the exhibit or collection catalog), and use hashtags or @s to link the image with others that are similar or people. 11

My Project: Kelly Library Flickr

The Kelly Library is a great example of a library using Flickr for promotion Each uploaded image has appropriate metadata included in the descriptionAll the images are organized into albums

At the Kelly Library I have been digitizing a number of rare books with unique furniture and metal clasps. After adjusting the image in photshop, I saved them as jpegs with a controlled name, and uploaded them to Flickr. From there I created an album dedicated to Metal Clasps, and added appropriate metadata to each image, including the bibliographic information of the item, a link to the UofT catalog record, and contact information for Kelly Special Collections.

If youre interested in seeing more, look up KellySMC on Flickr!12

My Project: Kelly Library Flickr

Next steps for the Kelly: connect with more users and similar collections See what is trendingStart using other platforms, and created a cross-platform social media strategyExpand the user base while at the same time digitizing collections!

The next steps for Kelly Special Collections would be to move onto more platforms, connect with more users, keep up with various trends as they go. This will help them expand their user base and attract attention for their collection.13

Thanks for your attention!

I hope you take some of these ideas home to your own libraries and collections.

(All Memes courtesy of



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