Instant RA!

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Let’s be honest, all of us have judged a book by its cover… and on Instagram that’s okay!

The social media site Instagram is focused on images, and therefore most of the photos of books that make it on the site are simply for aesthetic reasons, but a few accounts have gone above and beyond a beautiful cover. If you follow the right users, Instagram can prove to be a treasure trove of reader’s advisory information. The pictures on Instagram have a small comments section below the photos where users and followers can provide feedback on the post, and in the case of books it is most often information on whether it was an enjoyable read or simply a pretty cover. A quick glance at certain followers can be a valuable way to familiarize yourself with popular books or to learn about some obscure texts that may be interesting to the patrons of your library.

It’s also useful to keep Instagram in mind when creating displays, as many accounts already group books together in creative and eye-catching ways.

Here are some of my favourite accounts and how they could be useful to you!

@subwaybookreview – One of the most popular bookish instagrams, this account showcases commuting New Yorkers and their book of choice. Written in the comments section is a quick review of the book to accompany the photo of the cover. This black-and-white account is beautiful and useful for quickly scanning for new material.

@lilitslittlelibrary – This account is curated by a book-lover named Lilit, who also has an accompanying blog where she writes in-depth reviews of classic and current literature. This account provides great groups of books that have common themes, and could be excellent when looking for types of books that work well together. Keep this account in mind when making displays in the library as well, as most of the covers shown are beautiful and eye-catching!

@strandbookstore – This bookstore has a very active account, and if you can stand repeated attempts to sell you tote bags then you’ll find there is some great content. Every Friday one of their staff will pick a book to review in a short clip, and the posts are then tagged with the hashtag #staffpickfriday. These recommendations along with great photos of current books make this account a solid choice for RA.

@epicreads – Tailored to the YA community, this account has 122k followers and the posts to match! They do fun readers advisory such as basing recommendations on star-signs, current events, and colour-coordinated covers. @epicreads engages their followers by often asking them to reply to their posts in the comment section, which is a great way to get tons of easy feedback on books you’re unsure about.

@nypl – Looking for inspiration for your own library’s Insta? The New York Public Library has a top-notch account. Combining reader’s advisory, library events, and interesting archival materials makes for an account deserving of its 81k followers.

Some hashtags to know:

#shelfie or #libraryshelfie – A photo of your bookshelf or display. May or may not include a person.

#bookface or #bookfacefriday – Line up your face with the oh-so-common half face book cover and take a picture! Most commonly posted on Fridays.

#librarydisplay – Self-explanatory, but useful for brain-storming display ideas.

#librariesofinstagram – Tagging your photos with this hashtag will allow users to find your account more easily, and help you gain a following of your own.

Jennifer Streckmann, UBC School of Library Archival and Information Studies

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