Private Boards come to Pinterest


Finally! You can now keep your boards private on Pinterest.

The holidays are a time for being with family, sharing great meals, and, of course, surprising your favorite people with a special gift. That’s why we thought the holidays were a perfect time to test one of our most frequently-requested features: secret boards! Starting today, we’ll be rolling out a test that enables anyone to create three secret boards.

We hope that secret boards will make Pinterest even more useful. You can use secret boards to keep track of holiday gifts, plan a special event, or work on a project you aren’t yet ready to share with the rest of the world. You can keep your secret boards to yourself or invite family and friends to pin with you.

Learn more.

How to not do support

Pinterest in Libraries

Disclaimer: I work for a support company so I might be biased in saying this – but we are way better at support than Pinterest is. David Lee King summarized his support experience with Pinterest. Pinterest was messing up links from his catalog so he thought he’d try support.

My first attempt wasn’t a good one. I submitted my ticket, and was immediately sent a link to the “here’s how to create a PIN, dummy” link (ok – they didn’t really say “dummy” – but they might as well have said that). Then they added this: ”If you’re writing about another issue, please submit a new ticket under the right topic to get help as quickly as possible.”

The story goes on. I already said that I work in a support company … but so do many of my readers! If you work in a library you’re in a service industry and a lot of what you’re doing is support (maybe not all technical) – learn from David’s story and don’t make the same mistakes that Pinterest did!

Changing Landscape of Education

Photo from Edudemic

A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project tackles the issue of web-based learning.

Pew and Elon University said that 60 percent of internet experts, researchers, observers and users polled said they agreed that by 2020, “there will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources … a transition to ‘hybrid’ classes that combine online learning components with less-frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings.” By comparison, 39 percent endorsed the contrary position that “in 2020 higher education will not be much different from the way it is today.”

As an educator and a learner I always prefer learning in person. The one on one attention and the ability to see the person teaching me (and if I’m teaching, seeing the people I’m teaching) is essential to my learning style. That said, it’s not always possible to take classes in person.

I went to library school 100% remotely because I was working full time while getting the degree – having that option made it so that I was able to finish library school in one year instead of 5. So I agree that more schools need to offer remote options, but I’d hate to see a world where all learning was done online and we didn’t go to classes anymore.

More via GigaOM.

Pictures for Presentations

Pinterest in Libraries

Like many of you I have been experimenting with Pinterest. I like looking at the pictures that you’re all sharing, but how can it help me in my work? I started a group (send me your username if you want an invite to post to it) called Pictures for Presentations where we can share pictures to make our presentations more interesting. I used this group when I created my slides for Training on Koha for KohaCon12 and I think it worked out pretty well. The focus was on me and what I was saying instead of having everyone reading the slides behind me (which can be boring).

Let me know if you want to share pictures for presentations via the comments or any of the other social networks I’m on.

Pinterest Terms Updated

Since Pinterest has come in to the public eye, there have been many articles and posts about the inappropriate sounding terms of service. This week I got an email from Pinterest letting me know that they will be updating the terms to alleviate some of these concerns.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working on an update to our Terms. When we first launched Pinterest, we used a standard set of Terms. We think that the updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future. We’d encourage you to read these changes in their entirety, but we thought there were a few changes worth noting.

  • Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
  • We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.
  • We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.
  • Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.

We think these changes are important and we encourage you to review the new documents here. These terms will go into effect for all users on April 6, 2012.

Like everything at Pinterest, these updates are a work in progress that we will continue to improve upon. We’re working hard to make Pinterest the best place for you to find inspiration from people who share your interest. We’ve gotten a lot of help from our community as we’ve crafted these Terms.

Ben & the Pinterest Team

7 Essential Elements to an Awesome Library Website

First up this morning was David Lee King sharing library website tips with us. I’m not working in this field so much anymore (web design) but I still wanted to see what cool tips David had for us all so here I am.

David started by blaming Ned Potter, author of The Library Marketing Toolkit ( for this presentation because Ned asked him for some tips for elements every website should have. It started David thinking and he went where we all go – hours, directions, etc. But that’s not we should all be thinking.

#1 Customers want something to read, watch and listen to when they visit the library

At least that’s what it’s like in our buildings, but not so much on our websites. An example is a blog post on your website that talks about a neat art exhibit at the library – writing/reading about it is not the real goal. We all have a link to our catalog, using the catalog is not the goal of the patrons – the goal is to read!

So some examples of giving patrons something to “do” on your library website is to include steaming videos, provide downloadable ebooks, and download free (or subscription) music.

Ebooks for example are perfect for your ‘digital branch’ or website. It’s not easy to download ebooks once in your physical building. They’re meant to be downloaded on mobile devices.

Another way to interact with patrons is to use social media and ask questions and promote discussion – an example from Topeka Shawnee was that they asked patrons what books kept them up late at night. You could also sign up for sites like GoodReads and LibraryThing and then embed a group’s activity right on your library website.

You could also do videos of book discussions or interviews and once again people can watch them on your website.

The Goal? These are all things that people can ‘do.’

#2 Customers have questions and ask at the library

We all answer questions in person when patrons come up to us. How about our digital branch? Do we make it friendly and easy to use?

Add an ‘Ask Now’ or ‘Ask a Librarian’ button that is big and colorful and easy to find. David pointed out a cool tool for this (and an open source one at that!) called Spark. You can use this to communicate with your patrons. For text messaging you can use Google Voice. These two tools are both free to use (but Spark does take some time to set up).

Another way for patrons to contact you is to allow for emailing questions

Arapahoe Library has a nice ask us page where they list all the ways to contact them including Twitter, Facebook, Email, Texting, etc.

The Goal? Answering questions!

#3 Customers need to know the normal stuff too

Patrons need to know things like your address and phone number. Don’t make your patrons dig for this!!

A footer is a common place for people to look for this info. Include hours, phone numbers, address, contact us link, etc. Also include on every page of the website a way to ask a librarian, get a library card, contact the library. These are the normal things people come to the library site to find.

When it comes to directions to your library site, make sure you get in your car and try out the directions you’re providing! David has worked in two libraries where this info on the website was actually wrong.

Make it easy to find frequently asked questions like circulation policies, fine policies, etc. And don’t make these PDFs filled with Library Jargon.

The Goal? Tell people the normal stuff!

#4 Library’s need actual staff

David asked how many of us hire volunteers to design our library buildings? People who just kind of think they know how to catalog to catalog your books? Why do that for your website?

Websites = Actual Work

Hire someone to do your website! Don’t just ask the most tech savvy person in your library and hope that it turns out right. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need an IT person, there are many content management systems such as WordPress and free themes you can get. This allows the staff to focus on the important stuff – updating the content!

Website = Real Staff

Include a staff directory on your website! Many libraries don’t include contact info for specific people at the library. It makes it really difficult to contact someone specific. At Topeka Shawnee they not only have a directory, but a photo of the staff member. So many libraries are about hiding the staff when it comes to the website. This is not good customer service!

Every blog author at David’s library also have an author bio page. There is a picture and short bio for each of them. They also include links to social networks for the blog authors which is a nice way to connect with the librarian in the digital world.

Shockingly at David’s library they want people to contact them!

The Goal? Staff the website

#5 Have Goals!

A lot of us strategic plans in our libraries, sometimes also a technology plan and other goals. Our websites need to be in these kinds of plans as well! There should be overlap between the library’s plan and the website plans. So if you have a collection development policy include things in there like writing blog posts about the new titles.

Keep statistics to see what tools are successful.

#6 Reach beyond your webbish boundaries

Go where people gather! Find out where you patrons are and then make sure you’re there. If a new one pops up – like Pinterest – do a pilot project. Ask patrons if they’re there and if they want the library to be there too. Topeka Library is on Pinterest now because their patrons asked them to be and they told their patrons to test it. They’re keeping stats and watching patrons usage to decide if it’s worth staying on there.

You can also turn these online gatherings in to in person gatherings like Tweetups or the PodCamp Topeka.

This is a way to meet your digital branch patrons.

The Goal? Be where people are.

#7 Be mobile friendly

A way to do this is use Boopsie to create a library mobile app.

You could create a mobile website using examples like this.

Make sure you brainstorm first though. Don’t just jump in to creating a mobile site. Think about how your patrons are going to want to quickly interact with the library website while on the go.

Also once you go live, ask for suggestions. What else do your patrons want to see on the mobile site or app? The whole point of providing this mobile site is for your patrons to use it!

The Goal? Be Mobile Friendly!


At the Disney Store there is a sign that says to visit the store online to get the full experience. Maybe we should do the same thing on our library websites. Use the website to provide the full library experience.

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On Pinterest

Tonight I attended a talk on Pinterest given by John LeMasney. Pinterest does one thing and does that one thing very well – it’s an image sharing/bookmarking tool.

Social Visual Bookmarking Precedents

John started by showing us sites that came before Pinterest that had/have a similar purpose :

  • Delicious
    The idea of social bookmarking became popular with Delicious, but has lost a lot of users because of Yahoo!’s poor management of the news that they were no longer going to support it.
  • Diigo
    Diigo sort of picked up the pieces when it looked like Delicious was going away. They took the model of Delicious and then built more features on to it.
    This tool allows a limited set of users who were found to be digital content curators to share their images with others. The limit to users means that you probably can’t get an account, but it also means that you’re going to find many amazing images. This site is geared more toward the visual designer versus the average user.
  • We♥It
    Another visual sharing site, but is much less exclusive than FFFFOUND is.
    Another visual sharing site.
  • Piccsy
    Yet another visual sharing site.

Pinning, repinning, following and liking

Which brings us to Pinterest. John gave us a brief tour of the features of Pinterest including: Searching, Pinning, and Pinboards

Pinning is how you share images on Pinterest. Like on Delicious where you would ‘bookmark’ a page, on Pinterest you ‘pin’ it. You then organize your ‘pins’ by putting them on Pinboards. You can also create group managed Pinboards like my ‘Picture for Presentations‘ board. What you can’t do yet is create a private board – all boards that you create a public at this time (this is one of the suggestions John has on his Pinterest Suggestions board).

We’re going to come back to this, but if, when you pin something, you take the time to enter a citation in the description box, you will avoid some of the potential trouble with Pinterest’s terms of service.

Another thing we found while asking questions and poking around was that people can add you to groups without your approval, you can remove yourself from groups. If you’re seeing things on your Pinterest list of ‘Pinners you follow’ from people you don’t know it might be that you were added to a group, so click on the image and see if you can track down why you’re seeing it and remove yourself from the group if you’re not really interested in that topic.

Lots of people are using Pinterest to try and sell things – but we’re not trying to sell – we’re just trying to get people in the library. Free is so much easier than selling, we just have to be in people’s faces and right now those faces are in front of Pinterest.

You can also ‘Repin’ items. This is when you find an image that someone else shared and you re-share it. One example is if you have a cooking program. You can find the board owned by the chef showing pics of his/her recipes and repin them to the library board to promote the event.

Branding best practices

Some obvious best practicees – participate! So many people and organizations sign up and then don’t use the tool. This looks very bad for you and for your brand. I have found several companies on Pinterest that have never shared a thing! Don’t do this. And along with that participation is to do something regularly.

Obviously you want to respect copyright and ownership. Add citations to descriptions and educate others how to do this.

Include links! You want to add a link to the description or by editing the image you have posted and adding in a link. You want to make sure you link back to your library site or ILS or whatever page at your library you’re posting content from.

Make sure you remember your brand! If you’re sharing content on your library site on Pinterest you want to make sure you stick to your brand. Make sure you use language that you’d use in a press release or on your website in your descriptions. That said, don’t only pin your own stuff. Make sure you share things from other boards that have to do with your events, your philosophy, your mission, etc. This makes you a member of the community on Pinterest.

Use group boards. Collaborate with colleagues and patrons so that you can benefit from their participation and extend your community even more. A group you could share with your patrons is to say ‘What I Like About Libraries’ and have your patrons share things they like about libraries – it gives you ideas and promotes libraries in general. Always remember to add keywords and hashtags to add metadata to a system where there is no other great method for metadata (yet).

More tips:

Copyright and fair use

What do Facebook, Pinterest and a scholarly article all have in common?

It could be peer review, it could be respecting copyright, it could be proper citations – you just have to make it that way!

Why does Pinterest say they own all of your pins?

Because they’re trying to cover their behinds. In Pinterest’s terms of service they say that they own everything you post on Pinterest. In reality what they’re trying to say is that they’re not responsible if someone illegally shares your work on their site. They don’t want to be sued because they provided a platform for copyright infringement.

Copyright is not given – so in the end Pinterest cannot say that they “own” your content, they’re just trying to protect themselves.

Filtering and search

Basically you can search for images, boards and people. Nothing much else to say here.


Going to your settings in Pinterest will allow you to turn off sharing on Facebook and other social networks. So if you use Pinterest for personal reasons and Facebook for professional or vice versa you might not want to share content from Pinterest on Facebook automatically. You can also limit emails that you receive and other general settings.

Suggested improvements

  • Improved searching. It would be great to search by color, camera, etc etc etc.
  • Metadata. Adding tags and tag clouds would help you find information and see what type of things certain people are pinning.
  • Tagging people and places. It would nice to geotag and tag faces like you can in Facebook and Flickr.
  • Android App. There is only an iPhone app right now.
  • Licensing options. I should be able to say that this is not mine, or is mine, or put a creative commons license on it – again this is something that Flickr does already.
  • Threaded discussion. There is no way to reply to a specific comment – it’s a flat discussion format.
  • See John’s Pinterest Suggestions


John will be posting his slides and a video online and I’ll add that when it’s available, but I didn’t want to wait to share all I learned with you all!!

[update] Slides and video are now online on John’s site [/update]