Cyberpunk Librarian: Tumblr as a Staff Picks Site

tumblr-logoTumblr has a lot of uses but it makes for a pretty brilliant and easy space to put up some staff recommendations for sharing with your patrons and other people in your library system. Thing is, you’re a busy librarian, right? (You are busy, aren’t you? This is the part where you nod your head and smile.) You don’t want to make something that’ll take a lot of time to upkeep and post to.

Well, if you have an iPhone, Android phone, or one of the newer iPod Touches with a camera, that’s actually all you need to do some quick and easy staff recommendations to a Tumblr site. Here’s what I do with ours.

First thing’s first, you’ll have to set up a Tumblr site. This is pretty easy and takes only a few minutes. No, you’ll find that the the big time sink on Tumblr is choosing a theme for your site because they have a vast array of themes and a lot of them are pretty. Don’t be ashamed if you wind up switching a couple of times before settling on one.

Once you have that, you’ll need the appropriate Tumblr app for your phone or device. Now, I have an Android phone and I’ve got an older iPod Touch without the camera. However I can assure that the app looks and acts the same on both devices so just go pick up the official Tumblr app from the App Store or the Android Market. The app is free and small and takes no time to configure. All you do is log in like you would to Tumblr and that’s it.

Okay, now you’re set. From here I’ll tell you how I do this with my Android phone, but I’m sure the process is pretty similar for iDevices too.

Step Zero:

Remember how I told you to set up a custom search on the Barcode Scanner app? Do that. It’s going to save you a bunch of time in this process. Once you have that done, you can go on to

Step One: Scan the book

Using the Barcode Scanner app, scan the ISBN of your book. Using the Custom Search feature you set up in Step Zero, bring up that item in your OPAC. Copy the URL to the clipboard and then switch to your camera.

tumblr-appStep Two: Take a picture of the book

Here is something to remember. It doesn’t matter where the book is when you photograph it. I’ve pulled them off the shelf and stood them on end right on the very shelf they came from. I’ve sat them on the desk in the check out room. I’ve tossed them on my bed at home. My co-worker used her table. It doesn’t matter. Don’t feel the need to set up a studio for your book. The entire idea is that this is quick, portable, and has an element of serendipity to it.

Once you get a decent picture, you’re going to want to use the Sharing feature of Android to share it right out to the Tumblr app. (On Android this shows up in a list of places you can share to.)

Step Three: Get it out on the Net

When you share it to the Tumblr app, it’ll bring up the Post Picture dialogue automatically with your picture selected as the image to share. Now, paste that URL from the OPAC (see Step One) into the Click-Through Link box. That way, someone can click your picture and go straight to the item in your OPAC. If you wish to put a caption, keep it short and simple. For ours we use “Dan recommends” or “Dan is reading” or something similar.

Hit the Post button.

You’re done!

Dig on our Tumblr if you want to see how this looks online. Initial set up took maybe 15 minutes. After that, posting a book to the site takes around 60 seconds or so.

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