Singapore Polytechnic Library – Pinterest Case Study

SP Library started using Pinterest when we were looking for a visual bookshelf solution to make our collection more visible to users. Pinterest was ideal as it was easy for anyone on the team to obtain an account and start co-curating right away. The clean aesthetics was a plus, and it’s great that our users were not required to have a Pinterest account to browse our virtual bookshelves.

We create boards featuring our regular monthly resource recommendations. Majority of the selection are books and e-books, but we also feature plenty of multimedia and even databases. We have a variety of themes. Firstly we have a set of boards called “Work Ready Reads”, “Life Ready Reads” and “World Ready Reads” – these are books selected to support our institutional mission, which is to nurture work, life and world-ready students.  We have also boards on local and New York Times bestsellers, and some on our latest fiction acquisitions and e-resources. Where there’s opportunity, we also prepare boards that our colleagues in the classroom can integrate into curriculum. We have the most fun though with our monthly “wildcard” boards. We try to match our user’s interests, or simply the season, such as World Cup! We take turns to curate the selection and each librarian contributes their personality to our boards.

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Some of our boards…

Although Pinterest has social media functions, it was not going to reach out to our specific users on its own. We promote our Pinterest board offerings through a monthly newsletter called Ready Reads, as well as a corresponding physical book display in our libraries. Exposure at each of these channels strengthens the identity of our reading campaign, also named Ready Reads.

On the boards itself, every one of our pins are linked to the title’s catalogue record page, so that they may locate, reserve or read (in the case of e-books) the title immediately. We take care to include a short description of the content of the title, such that a user’s browsing experience is not dissimilar from reading the blurb of an actual book or DVD.

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A sample pin…

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…where we edit the source to point to the title’s catalogue page

The response has been encouraging. After each newsletter goes out, we would see a spike in social media activity on the boards. Some endearing users even signed up for a Pinterest account just to repin some books! As Pinterest is an open community, many around the world have also been liking and pinning our titles. We are promoting good reads to an international audience! In terms of actual circulation, we do see most selected titles move quickly from the physical shelf display. The wildcard boards are quite popular especially if we catch the right topic, like football or graphic novels.

We started using Pinterest in May 2013 and have since developed a workflow. It starts with a collation of recommendations and then the pinning and updating of each title. Work also concurrently begins on the newsletter, which features the boards and is sent to every staff and student. As the newsletter goes out, we also prepare the physical book displays. We go through this cycle every month.

We think Pinterest works well when integrated with our catalogue and our EDM. As an independent social media tool, it’s probably not the best approach for us as a library rather than a retailer (who are doing very well selling their wares on Pinterest). We will be continuing to use it as we move forward to create a microsite for the Ready Reads campaign – Pinterest widgets would be featured J

Pinterest’s open community is probably a great choice for public libraries who serve a large user pool. As an academic library in a polytechnic, Pinterest does not allow us to focus exclusively on our community. As librarians though we are happy to share our collection with as many folks as possible!

Lastly, Pinterest is but a content platform. It still takes passionate bibliophiles to curate and highlight the right books, and create avenues to share the boards beyond its web format. Thankfully it is easy enough and it’d be great to see more libraries on board!


YiLing Yi Ling is a reference librarian at Singapore Polytechnic Library. With a background in design, she was very happy when her twin loves of books and beautiful aesthetics came together in the form of an iPad Mini. She has since filled her iPad with loads more bibliophilic mobile tools and of course, e-books. In her spare time she is an earnest student of ceramics.

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