Tumblr. Think of it and no doubt you think of the associated phrase F*** Yeah. There are plenty of wibbly GIFs and fan stuff (Is Michael Fassbender a shark?) and a lot more besides. As a blogging platform, it is easy to set up, fast-growing, and has recently been purchased by Yahoo.
If you go to Explore Tumblr, you will get a feel for the type of stuff being posted: LOL, Food, Fashion, Art, Vintage are the current top five tags. You can follow Tumblrs, and tagging is critical as it is the main means of finding stuff.
Excellent background reading is found in two articles:
- Tumblrarian 101: Tumblr for libraries and librarians by Kate Tkacik
- The Library is open: A look at librarians and Tumblr by Molly McArdle
I love Kate’s description of Tumblr as “the best baby Twitter and WordPress didn’t know they ever had.”
Central Hawke’s Bay District Libraries is the only Kiwi library doing it at an institutional level, but New Zealand librarians are colonising the space. I’ve been dabbling for a while, in order to figure out how and why a library might want to be in this social space. Here are some observations:
The potent image
There is a strong visual component to Tumblr. GIFs, video, images, photos, and even text itself are all well-handled in all the blog themes. If you have an art or photo collection that you want to promote, Tumblr should be a strong contender.
Even the monthly archive of your blog pulls together posts in a super-visual style:
Literature lovers unite
Publishers, booksellers, literary people, and readers hang out on Tumblr. They share literary news, photos, and snippets of interesting stuff. Often these people or groups will have a Twitter, Facebook, possibly a Flickr, and Tumblr is their publishing place of choice for longer format material.
Things to think about
It is easy to share …
You will find a lot of sites make it easy to post stuff to Tumblr. You can also reblog posts you like. This is super-easy – I especially love how you can get Flickr images up into Tumblr with a simple click. I’ve set my Tumblr up so it fires off a tweet when a new post goes up. It is all interconnected and simple.
– but who does the content belong to?
When you reblog a post, it looks like it is your content which can lead to confusion. Sometimes it is unclear where the post originally came from, or who owns the content. This can be problematic for libraries in terms of copyright and attribution.
An in-between place
Not as short as Facebook and Twitter, not as discursive as your WordPress/Blogspot blog or website – Tumblr can serve as a place where you both share your own content and repost stuff that is useful, interesting, and relevant.
Let’s get together
Tumblr would be a great space for us for the GLAM sector to share content collaboratively. It would be an environment in which to share our historical content and images (remember vintage is one of the top five tags – so there is an inbuilt audience). Some of us keen on making DigitalNZ sets had a go at promoting the gems we found via The DigitalNZ Fan Club.
A Tumblr of semi-random stuff from the stacks of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries
The official Tumblr feed for The Millions, the online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture.
Images created using a commercially available law enforcement composite sketch software and descriptions of literary characters.
Writers no one reads
Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.
Day-by-day reflections on history and culture
- Tumblrarian 101: Tumblr for libraries and librarians Kate Tcacik, 27 August 2012
- Tumblrarians – Libraries/Librarians on Tumblr Kate Tkacik’s list
- The Library is open: a look at librarians and Tumblr Molly McArdle, 25 June 2013
- Teens dig Tumblr SLJ , 14 January 2013
This article was also published in Library Life’s social media issue, August 2013.