Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pinterest for Librarians

Pinterest is growing a name for itself in the world of education. A visual social bookmarking tool, it was once used mostly for DIY project ideas and home decor. 

We teachers, however, have a superpower of making things fit to suit our needs. In the past several months, I've noticed an explosion of educators using Pinterest to share and glean ideas that help with teaching strategies, classroom/library organization, and creative lesson ideas and printables. I've seen everything from bulletin boards to anchor charts posted on Pinterest, and the teachers are gobbling it up. So much that in the most recent update (a few weeks ago), Pinterest added a specific category just for education. Pretty nifty. 

Are you new to Pinterest? Here are a few basics...
1. Before you do anything, you must have an account. You can go to Pinterest and request an invite, OR I can send you an invite. Email me at mwilson518 at gmail for an invite or leave a comment and I'll send you one. 

To complete login, you have to click on a link Pinterest emails you and then log in with your Facebook or Twitter information. The point of this is that Pinterest wants to connect you with people you know who are already using Pinterest. 

2. How does it work? Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool. I've also heard it referred to as a social catalog. You see something you like, and you "pin" it (which means saving it for later). To pin something, you categorize it to a "pinboard." You can use the defaults or you can change the names of your boards to suit your needs. You can add or delete pinboards as your heart so desires. That explains the catalog part. The social part of it is that you are viewing other people's pins and other people's pinboards on Pinterest (Yes, there is an app for that!)

3. Once you get your pinboards like you like them, start pinning things. If you are using Pinterest from your computer, you can click on "About" and go down to the "Pin It Button" page. This helps you install a bookmarklet that helps you pin things you see from elsewhere on the internet (as long as there is an image and a website associated with it, you can pin it.)

4. You can leave the pin descriptions as they are or you can edit them to suit your needs. What librarians love about Pinterest is that the nature of the tool is sharing resources, but it is impossible to do so without connecting the image to its original source (read: CITATION). As a matter of fact, Pinterest is pretty serious about copyright violation. Here's a glimpse at their policy:

5. So, with all this awesomeness...what's not to love?

Well, a word of caution...

*Pinterest is social in nature and you must understand that if you choose to peruse the entire Pinterest catalog, there may be pins you come across with offensive language or perhaps a tad more skin than you want to see. Therefore, this is not a tool for students. This is not a tool to use in plain sight of students (ex: do not browse on your projected desktop). Pinterest is an INCREDIBLY useful resource for teachers and librarians...so use it wisely.

I showed Pinterest to some of the classroom teachers at my school and they have loved it. It gives them access to so many resources to use with their students, and our hallway displays prove just how creative some of their Pinterest ideas are. If you'd like to complete a training with your teachers, feel free to use my handout. 

6. Just one more thing! :) There are librarians on Pinterest whose pinboards you may want to follow. Here are a few to get you started:

Sharon Matney
Jessi Peterson
Elizabeth Eastman
Yours Truly

7. And yes, guys, Pinterest users seem to be mainly chicks. :) Don't let that scare you away, though!


  1. Love using Pinterest for library-purposes. People can follow me here: http://pinterest.com/sotomorrow/

    Great post! I'm a public librarian but I follow some of the teachers I know from work (and they follow me) and it has been fun for both of us to see how much overlap there is in admiring the ideas.

  2. Please send me an invitation! I sent a request for one a week ago, but I haven't gotten it yet. Thank you!