For the past three years, as I’ve incorporated Google Suite, Canvas, Kahoot, and other interactive digital tools into my library practice, I’ve seen firsthand how technology can benefit my school community. During the quarantine, my technological skills helped me communicate with staff and students to provide instruction, book lists, videos, and research information. The most exciting pursuit for me while in lockdown, though, was starting a bookstagram account on Instagram. Bookstagram, a community of Instagram users focused on the love of books, brings together people from all over the world as they share photos, ideas, recommendations, and reviews.
Instagram has always been my favorite social media platform. As an introvert and someone who quickly gets overwhelmed from too much stimuli, I prefer the application’s compact format and visual focus. Amidst this pandemic I felt motivated to consolidate my book posts and created bookswithkg. I began posting book-related content once a day, and indulged in other bookstagrammers’ accounts. My bookstagram has given me a creative endeavor to focus on and has put me in touch with dozens of librarians, readers, and book lovers. According to technology specialists Kerry Gallagher and Larry Magid, social media can “enhance your network of contacts, engage you in important discussions, extend your own learning and even provide a platform for class projects” (Gallagher and Magid). By collaborating on Instagram, I have curated lists of books, gained insight into the perspectives of readers of other races, cultures, and age groups, and engaged in thoughtful discussions about issues sparked by literature, education, and current events.
Though some librarians have created bookstagram accounts specifically for their school libraries to promote educational information, I have found that a personal account is a good place to start. For me it has sparked countless ideas I plan to integrate into my library in the fall. It has also led to conversations with authors, many of whom are accessible and eager to communicate through comments or private messages. Librarians can participate in bookstagram giveaways, meetup events, and social game playing, all focused on the themes of books and reading. The only difficult challenge in joining this vibrant community has been limiting my time in the digital sphere so that I can still spend many disconnected hours lost in reading.
Tips for Following Bookstagram Accounts on Instagram:
- Hashtags: Type a bookish term into the search bar and click on “Tags.” This will bring you to posts that include specific hashtags (words used to identify posts of a certain topic). Some hashtags to start with are: #bookstagram, #bookstagrammer, #librariansofinstagram, #highschoollibrarian, #readersofinstagram, #librarymediaspecialist, #teachersofinstagram, and #readdiversebooks.
- Following: After clicking on the hashtags, scroll through the results, choose accounts that are appealing to you, and click follow. When starting out, don’t follow too many accounts, as your feed can quickly become overwhelmed with content. Choose a handful that excite you and cater to your interests.
- Interact: Double click on images to like other bookstagrammers’ posts. Comment or send them direct messages (DM) to further discuss book or library ideas. Bookstagrammers are a friendly group and I’ve found that everyone I’ve reached out to has seemed happy to connect with me.
Tips for Creating Your Own Bookstagram Account:
- Account Name: Choose a creative, bookish name that is easy to remember. Using the words “books” or “library” in the name makes it easier for people to find you when searching for book or library accounts.
- Profile and Bio: Use a photo of yourself, a picture of books, or digitally created art. It’s best not to change your profile picture too often since people begin to recognize others’ profiles. In your bio, list anything that you want others to know about you. Include what type of librarian you are so that colleagues will be able to reach out to you. You can only include one link (unless you want to use an app like Linktree). Choose your Goodreads page, blog site, or author page on Knowledge Quest if you’re a blogger.
- Posting: If you’re consistent, you’re more likely to gain a following. I started my bookstagram account at the end of April and have been posting once a day. My main goal is to have fun and connect with other librarians and readers, which I’ve been doing successfully. If you want to increase your following, post often, participate actively, and reach out to others to discuss topics you’re interested in.
Some of My Favorite Bookstagrammers:
Authors to Follow:
Other Book/Library Accounts:
@bookrevueli (or your local indie bookshop)
Gallagher, Kerry and Larry Magid. n.d. “The Educator’s Guide to Social Media.” ConnectSafely, www.connectsafely.org/eduguide/.
Author: Karin Greenberg
Karin Greenberg is a library media specialist at Manhasset High School in Manhasset, New York. She is a former English teacher and writes book reviews for School Library Journal and Woodbury Magazine. In addition to reading, she enjoys animals, walking, hiking, the beach, and spending time with her family. Follow her book account on Instagram @bookswithkg.