Thing 18 Communicating Through Pictures

I mentioned this article in one of my previous blog posts but I am going to mention it again because this post is looking specifically at Instagram. I think every library should have an Instagram account or an equivalent. You can’t see all of the pretty book covers when they are stuck on the shelves… but you can see them in Instagram (or Pinterest!).

There is a really interesting fittingly titled “#selfiesinthestacks” which looks at how Instagram can be used by libraries to conduct library inductions and in doing so, alleviate library anxiety in new students, increase user engagement and offer active learning experiences. The author questions how much information students realistically retain whilst attending traditional library inductions, especially when so much is going on at the start of term. She developed a fantastic library induction using Instagram which introduced new students to the library in a fun, social and modern way.

  • She downloaded the Instagram app on the library’s iPads and created a library account ( She then logged into the account on each of the iPads (6 of them). This obviously depends on the library having these kinds of resources available for students to use. Tablets can be expensive and although a lot of people have their own mobile devices, not everyone does. I am unsure how well this would work if you had the students using their own devices. We are lucky that we have around 8 tablets at work that we would be able to use for this sort of thing. It would be possible then to have groups of students sharing a tablet and doing these activities.
  • She presented a short PowerPoint which was a brief introduction to the library, directing students to the library catalogues, describing the layout of the library and explaining the task. This is still ensuring that the students are getting the information they need to be able to use the library. I think library inductions need to be short and sweet and it is not necessary at this stage to go through things in a huge amount of detail. Academic, research and study skills can be saved for later.
  • Students were asked to get into groups of three to five people and choose a team name. This is the fun bit!
  • Each group received an iPad and a sheet of paper with the following prompts listed. All apart from the specific book title are open to interpretation:
  • The weirdest book
  • Something confusing
  • The best study spot
  • This book (each group was given a different book to find)
  • Your group and a member of library staff
  • A DVD you want to watch
  • Students would then use the iPads to take photos based on the prompts and upload them to the library’s Instagram account. The groups were given 30 minutes to explore the library. This is obviously an activity that would require the students to talk and it would be quite a noise activity and it depends on the kind if library as to whether it would be appropriate to have groups of students running around. But I think an activity such as this one would help students to develop a better opinion of the library. If their first experience in the library environment is a positive, fun one then they are more like to see the library as a dynamic environment where they want to spend time, rather than a place where they are constantly being shushed. A sixth form college library is never silent! Therefore, I don’t think we would need to worry about the students making too much noise in this environment. What we may need to worry about is students uploading images that are not based on the prompts if you know what I’m saying… I guess you would just need to moderate the posts before they are made public.
  • When they returned they looked through all of the images on a projector together and had a discussion about their experience. We have our own classroom in the library that is used for inductions and lessons so we would be able to take the students in there for the presentation and once they have completed their activity.

I really like this idea and I really want to do it! Our library needs an Instagram account first but it is something I am working on. I convinced Bradford University library and I will convince Ashton! I have plenty of time to plan a session such as this one and introduce it to the team. I think everyone will like the idea, fingers crossed.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

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