Last week the New York Academy of Medicine’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health invited libraries, archives, and museums to participate in #ColorOurCollections week, or, as they described it, “a week-long special collections coloring fest.”
My library has a wealth of materials that make for excellent coloring pages, so I jumped at the chance to participate. Thanks to a flood of suggestions from my colleagues, I put together a Pinterest board and a series of tweets sharing design drawings, stained glass cartoons, cut glass pattern patents, woodcuts, engravings, and more.
I also decided to share the fun with the library and museum staff – after all, who doesn’t like a little stress-free coloring time? I photocopied pages from a few stained glass pattern books and put them in each library staff member’s mailbox, then put more patterns and a bunch of colored pencils in our break room. People have pinned their finished pages to a bulletin board in the break room, and I’ve had many smiling librarians stop by my desk to say how excited they were to find coloring pages in their mailboxes.
Because the full museum staff is pretty large, I didn’t have the time or resources to send all of them coloring pages and colored pencils. Instead, I posted a link to the Pinterest board on our intranet and invited them to take a coloring break. Maybe next year I can convince the museum’s wellness team to make coloring an official wellness activity! I did have a member of our tourism team ask about sharing coloring pages with local hotels and their guests, which was pretty exciting. We’re working with our rights & reproductions team now to see what we can do.
The response to our posts was great – we got an overwhelming number of likes, retweets, and comments on Twitter, a slew of new followers on Pinterest, and a few photos of colored-in pages from followers. I’m pretty confident in saying it’s one of our most successful library social media campaigns ever.
NYAM reported that over 215 libraries and cultural institutions from around the world participated in #ColorOurCollections (find the full list plus links here). They’ve proposed to make it an annual event each February, and I for one plan to participate!