Blogger Kiera Parrott

A Valentine to Pinterest

Raise your hand if you’re on Pinterest. Keep it raised if you are simultaneously reading this blog while thinking about what images you’d like to pin. If you are anything like me or the 7 million people currently using Pinterest, you may quickly find yourself obsessively pinning and repinning images on this addictive new visual bookmarking service. I’m here with a bit of great news: your new social media obsession is okay. In fact, Pinterest might very well be the best new tech tool for children’s librarians.
If you’ve yet to experience the joy of pinning, here are the basics: users can create free Pinterest profiles using their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Once created, you can begin by uploading your own images (similar to Flickr in that respect), by searching for images uploaded or pinned by other users (this is called ‘repinning’), or by pinning images you discover online. Users may then follow other Pinterest users (as you would on Twitter.) When you pin something new, your followers will see it and vice versa. That’s the social part.

When it first launched in 2009, Pinterest was primarily the home of graphic designers, artists, photographers, and fashion designers. Although currently still in beta, the site has expanded exponentially over the past few months, allowing thousands of new users to join by simply requesting an invitation. Now, the social media platform is home to crafters, wedding planners, teachers, parents, silly cat photo lovers, and of course, librarians. As a result of this influx of new and diverse users, Pinterest content and uses have evolved.

 Pinterest for Ideas

Weird/fun dinner idea from Pinterest user Kattude

What do I have in common with a self-described “southern Christian mom from the beautiful Ozark mountains?” Not much, it would seem. Except that I, too, love messy, sensory-rich, homemade art and science projects. And Jessica (ibeejc on Pinterest) is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to making various kind of goop, sensory bins, and marshmallow men. It was via Pinterest that I discovered her terrific blog featuring art, craft, and science activities.

Pinterest allows users to create Boards to organize and separate images into clusters. On my Pinterest, for example, I have one board called Storytime Resources & Ideas. On that board, I pin creative storytime crafts, photos or videos of librarians performing read alouds, and links to blog posts or articles about early literacy training for librarians. I can search within Pinterest to find new ideas and also post my own to share.

Pinterest for Collaboration

Pinterest also allows users to add co-collaborators to boards. This feature has proved especially useful for intra-departmental projects. For example, my staff and I have been chatting with our User Experience coworkers about revamping the design elements on the Kids section of our library’s website. In the past, we might bookmark websites we like, print out screenshots, and send links via email. This time around, we’ve created a board called Children’s Library Website Mood to collect photos, illustrations, websites, graphics, design elements, and links to relevant content from multiple sources. All of the children’s librarians in our department have the ability to pin content to that board. When we meet as a group next month with our tech-savvy colleagues to discuss website design changes, we will have a rich, visual presentation of what we would like see in the future upgrade.

Pinterest for Bookmarking

Many Pinterest users create boards to bookmark and organize web content around a specific subject or theme. For example, we’ve been discussing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Technology) at my library and ways that we can provide programming to support STEM skill-building. In the course of my research, I’ve come across national initiative websites, teacher blogs, afterschool clubs, lesson plans, videos, and grant opportunities. In the past, I may have bookmarked these sites into a folder or added them to Delicious. I find it much easier (and rather more fun) to “Pin it” using the browser add-on. That means that as you are browsing the web, you can quickly pin visual content on almost any webpage. The neat part is that you are also able to create a hyperlink to that content. Unlike a folder of bookmarks, should I ever be called upon to present my findings, I have a much more engaging presentation to share.

 Pinterest for Booklists and Reader’s Advisory

One of the 2013 CT State Nutmeg Books- now pinned!

Several libraries have now added“Pin it” buttons to their OPACs. Similar to Facebook’s “Like it” or  Twitter’s “Tweet it”, clicking “Pin it” from a catalog record will automatically add the cover image to your designated Pinterest board and create a hyperlink to the catalog record. The first time I tried it, this blew my mind! What interesting possibilities there are for booklists (as well as other media.) My first experiment was creating a board for the 2013 Connecticut State Book Award Nominees (known as The Nutmegs.) Within minutes, the cover images and links were repinned by several moms and fellow educators- including one local mom who started following me. Can I count that as a Reader’s Advisory statistic? The opportunities for reaching out to our patrons are intriguing. Imagine a book club board: What content might patrons and staff want to pin surrounding a thematic book discussion? Recipes, fashion, links to articles?

How are you using Pinterest?


  1. Jeanette Larson

    I’m just getting into Pinterest and your suggestions are a great help in understanding how to really use this resource.

  2. Anna Watkins

    I love Pinterest — I use it for personal use mostly, saving photos, tutorials and recipes. I’m concerned about unauthorized and un-accredited linking (and multiple levels of re-pinning) to copyright-protected images, especially those that are saved for the image only, and not as a link back to information on the original page itself. A repin of a repin of a repinned image is likely not going to lead back to the creator of the image. Has ALA considered the copyright implications of this, for Pinterest as a commercial enterprise, and for the users?

    1. Dan Rude

      Hi Anna. To answer your question, no, the ALA has not yet completed an internal discussion of the copyright implications of Pinterest. But I can assure you that these discussions will take place as the buzz around Pinterest gets louder and louder. As a division of children’s librarians and information specialists, ALSC takes copyright issues seriously and is well-positioned to add a critical voice to the conversation of fair-use and copyright concerns.

  3. Jennifer Schultz

    Pinterest is awesome for youth librarians. I’ve found fantastic ideas for children’s and YA programs.

  4. Anna Watkins

    Link to a comprehensive article on Pinterest & copyright violations (some issues are unique to Pinterest and could be amended, such as its use agreement and image storage on its own servers.)

    Is Pinterest a Haven for Copyright Violations?”

    1. Dan Rude

      Anna, thanks for your link. ALSC and the ALA are interested in using Pinterest to stay in-step with members and organize information related to libraries, but it’s clear that researching a way to share content fairly is a priority. We’ll be sure to make this article part of the discussion as we continue our examination of this growing phenomenon.

      1. Kiera

        Anna, thank you so much for sharing the link to that excellent article. Concerns over copyright use and fairness is something that we are discussing at my library as well. I’d be curious to know if any libraries on Pinterest have set up guidelines for pinning or best practices. As my own library develops our Pinterest, I’ll be sure to share what we learn.

  5. Tami Finley

    I am having so much fun on Pinterest – boards for library programs, storytimes, displays, early literacy and a collabarative board for SRP! Thanks for your other suggestions!

    I’ll be following you!

  6. Kiera Parrott Post author

    It took me a while to really get into Pinterest and figure out ways to use it. But once I dug in, I couldn’t stop. I’m glad my suggestions have been helpful. I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface and librarians/educators will invent new and even better ways to Pin as it spreads.

  7. Monica

    My favorite part of Pinterest has been taking the bookmarks of projects from my various computers and putting them all in one place! Next is seeing what everyone else is looking at!

  8. Jennifer Wharton

    It’s so handy to collect ideas, especially flannel boards, from other library blogs that I plan to use. I love that I can click on my pictures and go right to the instructions on their blog. I haven’t used much of the social networking aspects yet though.

  9. Mary Marshall

    I’ve been using Pinterest personally, & we’re working on an account for our library. My ideas for boards for the children’s library are story time ideas & books, toys in our early literacy/play areas, craft projects for programs, games/activities for programs, photos/links for other children’s libraries, original art in children’s libraries, display ideas, books for different ages, promotion of ourthe picture book collections by topics (we are in the process of recataloging our picture book collection, ex: jeasy/Go, Go, Go/Cars/Smith)…. So many Pinterest ideas, so little time!

  10. Lisa

    Thanks for bringing up this “trending” topic. I’ve been debating whether or not to jump in to pinning. It looks very intriguing, but like everything else (Twitter, FB, blogging), it also seems to require quite a time commitment. So many things that can save time, can also waste it. Maybe I’ll give it a second look. Thanks again.

  11. Angela Reynolds

    I’m surprised no-one has mentioned Flannel Friday yet– a great resource on Pinterest. Check it out!

  12. Pingback: Using Riffle for Visual Book Lists | ALSC Blog

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