by Cynthia Condit
Pinterest has been called a social scrapbooking site, a social media network, a content sharing platform, and a visual bookmarking and discovery platform. For many, it brings to mind crafts, recipes, and weddings. But in an interview with Fortune magazine in July 2015, Ben Silbermann, Pinterest CEO, said Pinterest is a “catalog of ideas,” a characterization that does seem to capture the Pinterest of today.
Pinterest has come a long way since it debuted five years ago. In September 2015, the company announced it had surpassed 100 million monthly active users. That’s growth that rivals Facebook (four years) and equals Twitter. Forecasters predict the number of users to reach 329 million by 2018. The Pew Research Center reports that since 2012, Pinterest usage (along with Instagram) has doubled while other platforms (Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter) have slowed.
After reading about the surge of users on Pinterest, I was curious to learn to what extent law libraries have engaged in using this “catalog of ideas.” After I ran a quick search on Pinterest, I found only a handful of law libraries with Pinterest sites. These include Ross-Blakely Law Library (ASU), Cleveland-Marshall Law Library, Florida State University Law Research Center, Jerome Hall Law Library (Maurer School of Law), Oklahoma City University School of Law, Stetson Law Library, UCLA Law Library, and University of Wisconsin Law Library. The organization and number of boards (categories, if you will) vary, but most include something about the following:
- The law library, law school, and associated university, if there is one
- City and state
- Legal research/guides
- New books/archives
Others in the legal knowledge sphere have a presence on Pinterest as well. Arizona Law for instance, has a well-curated Pinterest board promoting the law school. The Library of Congress offers 50 boards covering a range of topics and has 5,500 followers. Legal information vendors also have Pinterest sites. Proquest, for example, has a site that includes a collection of infographics for libraries and librarians.
Educators from elementary schools to universities have embraced Pinterest as an educational tool. An article in Slate notes that “there’s a big hole in how teachers build skills and Pinterest is helping to fill it.” Murray State University reported in Internet Reference Services Quarterly how they are using Pinterest to create a credible reference library. Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science offers a series of blog posts on Pinterest and how to use it to promote libraries. The University of Texas Libraries, the fifth largest academic library system in the nation, has an informative guide to using Pinterest in marketing the academic library. Laura Gentry, a librarian at the Birmingham Public Library, has created a Pinterest baord devoted to examples of how academic and special libraries and archives are using Pinterest.
It’s interesting that law libraries have not embraced Pinterest to the same degree as other educators and institutions. By no means is any one resource the be-all and end-all, but it might be time to revisit what Pinterest can do for us.