Tumblarian 101: For libraries, archives, and everyone else!

Have you seen Kate Tkacik’s article about tumblr for The Digital Shift? If not, check it out. Kate – or thelifeguardlibrarian, as some of you may know her – is quite the force in the library tumblr world. She was one of the first tumblarians I got to know after joining the platform, and definitely one of the loudest voices/advocates in our tumblr community (and I mean that in the best way!).

Kate’s article is a quick guide for librarians and libraries who want to join tumblr. Her three main points include, briefly: (1) follow great blogs (both for great content and to learn what could work best for your own tumblr); (2) “be yourself and balance your content” (let your personality show through your posts and vary the types of posts); and (3) tag your posts (“no tags, no readers”).

I second these points – both for libraries/librarians and archives/archivists interested in joining tumblr. We have a great community with many different voices, and there’s tons of places to find inspiration. If you’re not sure how it all works, join up and follow a few people to get a feel for it. The librarians behind the Library Journal’s tumblr and the School Library Journal’s tumblr (two of my personal favs) provided some of their favorites here, and Kate and I have each kept up a list of libraries/librarians and archives/archivists respectively. [If you do join up, make sure to let us know so we can add you to our lists!]

I recommend posting frequently – I know I check my feed several times a day to see what’s going on, as do most of the people I follow. I agree that you need to insert your voice/humor as well – all my favorite libraries/archives on tumblr have very clear personalities thanks to the people running them. It’s appropriate (and welcome!) to post gifs or memes right alongside event photos or #onthisday posts. As Kate says, we’re a lively group and we love a great post!

For archives, this is a way to post interesting photos or documents from your collections. Check out NARA’s Today’s Document and the Archives of American Art’s tumblr for some great examples. UW-Madison’s Found in the Archives! and NARA’s Preservation at the National Archives feature videos, images, and longer posts. Post about exhibits, events, new accessions – whatever works best for you. No matter what you post – remember to interact with your followers/people you follow!

Above all, make sure to tag your posts!! As Kate says, you will have a very limited audience (your followers) if you don’t tag. Tagging can lead to new followers – and following tags can help you discover interesting people. Try #archives, #archivists, #libraries, #librarians, #history, #education, #literature, etc. to start – but use whatever tags are most relevant for your post. Using the first four tags usually guarantees us Tumblarians will find you and follow you!

I encourage students, professionals, and repositories to join tumblr – it’s a great platform that reaches a wide audience of people, and offers a lot of ways to post, find, and interact with material. Our librarian/archivist group forms a vibrant community, and we are always excited to welcome new people into the conversation.


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