A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

As Winter Storm Jonas made its way along the East Coast, libraries took to Instagram to reach out to their patrons. Many posts were designed to notify patrons about changes in library hours or closures, remind everyone of the library resources that can be accessed 24/7 from home, and poke fun at how much time we’d have to catch up on the books we’ve been meaning to read. Book and media displays soon looked as bare as supermarket shelves as patrons flooded in to stock up on library essentials!

Jonas highlighted how communities are prioritizing libraries as a step in their storm preparations while also shedding light on the connections developing between libraries and library staff on this social media platform. In scrolling through post comments, sentiments of “Be safe!” and “Warm wishes!” can be seen from libraries across the nation and as far away as Australia. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses how important it is that all library staff, stakeholders, and community members communicate, advocate for their library, and keep up to date on current research and best practices. It seems that Instagram is becoming a platform for us to toot our horns for a job well done and learn of the successes of other libraries. When scrolling through images, it’s easy to find ideas that might be fun to try or come across a picture of a full house and click around to see which program was held. The images can also provide subtle clues on how set-up was handled, necessary supplies, and how the program was publicized. Best of all, if staff members in different departments (Youth Services, Adult Services, Circulation, etc.) all contribute to your library’s Instagram account, images from other organizations can both educate your coworkers on trends in teen services as well as inspire them to get involved. 

In addition to providing a platform on which to make connections and share information with other libraries, Instagram can also serve as a way to introduce the community to your library staff. While the hashtag #meetthestaffmonday is used by a number of businesses and organizations from outside of the library world, libraries are applying a similar concept to their weekly posts. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report states the importance of developing relationships with teens in which the adult is not necessarily supervising them, but acting more as an ally, mentor, or coach. Forming these relationships with teens takes time and can be a bit awkward at first. By virtually introducing yourself on Instagram, teens may feel more comfortable during initial interactions as they already know what you look like (and who they’re looking for when they walk in the building) and some of your interests such as favorite books and activities. Including library staff from other departments is important both in terms of showcasing the work that goes on behind the scenes as well introducing teens to others in the building with whom they may share similar interests.

Have you started Meet the Staff posts at your library? How do you  have staff members introduce themselves – favorite books, activities, or programs they host? Which program ideas have you tried that you found on Instagram? Share with us in the comments section below!



About Meaghan Darling

Meaghan is the Youth Services Librarian at the Sparta Public Library in Sparta, New Jersey.

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