During the course of several conversations I’ve had with the kids in my Teen Advisory Group over the last year, they told me that they use Tumblr more often than they use Twitter or Facebook. More importantly, they told me that Tumblr was one of their favorite ways to get book recommendations. And that’s what set the wheels in motion.
Since my library didn’t have a Tumblr account yet, I decided to start one that would be teen-centric, using the interests of my Teen Advisory Group as a guide. While most of the content would tie into young adult books, I also wanted to promote movies and other media that tied into YA books, as well as the fandoms and sensibilities shared by my TAG. Smart and sarcastic humor? Check. Anime and manga? Check. Doctor Who? Check. Benedict Cumberbatch? Check. The Welcome to Night Vale podcast? CHECK!
One of the most time-consuming aspects of setting up a Tumblr was deciding which other Tumblrs I would follow, since the majority of what I’d be doing is re-blogging what other people had written / created / promoted. I spent time looking up Tumblr accounts of various authors, publishers, and review sources. I did google searches for recommended Tumblrs, library Tumblrs, teen Tumblrs, etc. After several hours of this, I had a list of 40 Tumblrs that I wanted to follow.
I’d been talking to my TAG about the Tumblr for several weeks, getting their input about its design and content. But they didn’t know until they showed up for our latest meeting that I had officially created it and was ready to unveil it. Some of the posts were an instant hit:
(Okay, knowing what I know about this group, I figured that a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch with some Muppets was probably a safe bet.)
But they also enjoyed the posts about new book releases, literary quotes, and literary food (by which I mean the picture of some completely adorable Lord of the Rings cupcakes). They even liked the picture I put up of the book I was consulting to help me create the Tumblr in the first place:
(Okay, they liked it in an eye-rolling way, but I think that still counts).
I took a picture of several of my teens while they were looking at the Tumblr, and then because I have the Tumblr app on my iPod Touch, I was able to immediately post that picture and then take ANOTHER picture of them looking at THAT picture:
When they saw what I was doing, they said it was a cute idea and suggested that we could do it twenty more times until the first picture got so small that you could hardly see it. Well … okay, that *might* have been cute, but since I don’t have infinite time or energy that wasn’t going to happen.
Anyway, I told them about my recurring post ideas—every Thursday morning at 10 a.m. I’ll have a “TAG Throwback Thursday” post featuring something from our TAG archives, and every Friday morning at 10am I’ll have a “Fuzzy Friday” post featuring a picture of something cute and adorable (preferably with a book). They gave me a great idea for a recurring post—recommending a different title for reluctant readers every week! I'll be doing those posts on Wednesday mornings. They also suggested that we do an alphabetical list of reading suggestions, that we follow some more anime tumblrs, and that we post more “neat stuff.” We also had a discussion about “cool” Tumblr themes, and just how committed I was to attracting a teen audience. That conversation went back and forth for a little while, because I do need to balance out the coolness quotient with the readability quotient. So we’re still in the process of striking that balance.
If you’d like to see what we’ve been doing and what we will continue to do with this Tumblr project, please check out the Kingsbridge Library Teens Tumblr.
If you’d like some tips on starting a Tumblr at your library, check out these “Teen Librarian Toolbox” links (Part 1, Part 2) which I found especially helpful as I got the hang of things:
Plus, you can always check out the book Tumblr for Dummies! It’s up to you whether or not you want any teenagers to see you with it, though. Be forewarned; they might think you’re old and out of touch… OR… they just might be impressed that you’re trying to keep up with them!