How I became a Librarian DJ - or 'Curating is the new black'

Media consumption is changing from 'owning' to 'having access to' - and libraries should reflect this trend.

There has always been an element of curating in librarianship. As a librarian you are responsible for building a collection, selecting the correct medium of content and supplying and marketing the collection to the users - just like the curator of a museum or an art gallery.

This is easily done with ordinary library media, like books. You put the new ones on display, while you weed the collection for books that you find outdated.  But, can the library also 'curate' social media and, if so, how?

For the past year I have been exploring two social media applications – Spotify and Pinterest. I have been trying to find out how to use this kind of social media as tools for promoting library competences.

Spotify and Pinterest

Spotify is a service for listening to, and sharing, digital music online.  Pinterest is a visual discovery tool for the collection and sharing of digital pictures, photos, videos etc.  Pinterest is one of fastest growing social media applications in the United States.

Spotify lets you make playlists of your favorite music.  It's easy to use and fun - you can show off your musical taste to your friends!  You can also make thematic play lists for the season, the weather or your occupation for example.

Even if the vast majority of recordings on Spotify are music in different forms, you can easily find much more. You can find speeches by prominent people, language courses and soundscapes from the jungle as well as the city. But you can also find e-books.   There are lots of them and they come in different languages.

With the help of Spotify the library can give the reading experience of an ordinary, printed book a new dimension. And here is where the library can market the competences of their staff. What if the library staff would make some play lists to follow the books library users are reading? What would the soundtrack to Bob Dylan’s Chronicles sound like? What does Inspector Banks listen to in Peter Robinson’s detective stories?!  If usage of your library's music collection is declining then find new ways to promote the skills of your library staff. 

Some years ago I came up with the idea of a "Guide Michelin" of Libraries as a way to describe interesting libraries from all over the world that I wanted to visit. When Pinterest was launched I decided to give it a try as a tool for building my collection of cutting edge libraries.

I had noticed that there were already some library activities on Pinterest. Libraries were collecting pictures, mainly book covers to promote reading and pictures from the local history of the area, but at that time no collaborative pinning of interesting libraries. So I started a pin board and invited people from around the world to contribute. This pin board now has over 1400 followers and over 50 contributors from all over the world!

Libraries can use Pinterest to co-operate with their users in collecting pictures, photos and videos of what is important and interesting in and for the society, as well as promoting reading and different library services.

The pin boards can also be seen as tools for promoting librarian skills. Putting pins on a pin board is in itself the very same activities as putting books on a shelf. Describing the pin is more or less the same as putting metadata to a catalogue.

You can hear more about Peter's ideas in session A103 at Internet Librarian International.

Spotify logo via Micky Aldridge via Flickr.