TikTok as a Form of Advocacy

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Despite the fate of social media platform TikTok still being in limbo, librarians, authors, and educators continue to embrace it as a place for advocacy. As social media has grown and evolved over the past two decades, one thing is certain: people will always find ways to gather and create community on these virtual platforms. And while many parents and educators lament their children’s time being consumed by smartphones and social media, #BookTok seems to be having a positive impact on people’s reading habits.  Below is just a small sample of the types of community being centered around libraries, books, and intellectual freedom via TikTok (and Instagram). If TikTok is indeed banned, there is no doubt people will find other places to gather in community, but as of right now, the advocacy work continues. 

This is just a selection of people/institutions doing the advocacy work. You do not need a TikTok account to browse the linked accounts- just select “Browse as Guest” to watch without signing in. Please share your favorite accounts in the comments. 

Mychal Threets (@mychal3ts) – Despite being transparent with his own mental health issues, Mychal Threets’ TikTok and Instagram accounts are all about sharing library joy. Threets’ stories about his experience working at the Solano County Library in California has recently garnered the attention of PBS who has hired him as their “resident librarian.” Could he be the next Mr. Rogers? 

The Contoured Librarian (@thecontouredlibrarian) – Heather Grace is an elementary librarian in Texas who has built a large following of people who can’t help but note that her infectious joy and optimism is contagious as she shares stories from her school, gives book recommendations, repairs books, and just otherwise makes you wish she was your librarian.  

Jarrett J. Krosoczka (@studiojjk) –  As is the case with so many authors in the 2020s, Jarrett J. Krosoczka has found himself the target of several censorship attempts in many school districts across the country. Instead of just getting angry, Krosoczka is using his platform to advocate for intellectual freedom… as well as give us a peek behind the curtain of what it’s like to be a creative professional. He shows the good, the bad, and the ugly, which in a way is its own form of advocacy. 

Oliver James (@oliverspeaks1) – James took to TikTok back in 2022 admitting to the world that he is functionally illiterate. Since then he has found a community of readers who have helped him and cheered him on to becoming a full-fledged reader. He is now a motivational speaker. 

Bettie’s Pages (@bettiespages) – Nicole Lintemuth is the owner of Bettie’s Pages, an inclusive bookstore in Lowell, Michigan. Lintemuth uses her platform in such a masterful way… by balancing local, small-town advocacy with using her voice on a bigger platform as a call-to-action in our own communities. This advocacy has led to a book deal… This Book is Dangerous, which will be published in July 2024.

Milwaukee Public Library (@milwaukeepubliclibrary) – This hallowed institution has been incredibly intentional about creating humorous content on a regular basis that projects the library as a fun and trendy place that doesn’t take itself too seriously. But what is so extraordinary about the work they are doing is that they aren’t just making their library look cool; they’re making THE library look cool. Many people from far reaches of the country and the world  are being reminded of what a hub of the community their own libraries are from just a few lighthearted videos about a library located in the Midwestern United States. 

Beth Shaum  is a member of the ALSC Children and Technology Committee and is a K-8 school librarian in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In her free time you can find her cuddling with her dogs, leaning into her latest hyperfixation, or making TikToks.

This blog post relates to the ALSC Core Competencies of: V. Outreach and Advocacy and  VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.

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