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What’s Shakin’- San Jose Public Library

December 4, 2010

Curious Conroy Cougar Comix by David Mejia, 2nd Place Adult Category from

Social media in libraries has been much ballyhooed for a few years now. So have been graphic novels. Library users are more diverse in their interests, tastes, and the media formats they prefer in accessing said interests and tastes than ever before. Virtual access and online communities are bringing new audiences into the library broadly characterized by a shift from passive content consumers to active content creators. OK, so this is a bit of a line from a cereal box… but it is true that more and more creative types are using 2.0 tools as self publishing platforms, and a certain percentage of these makers are finding both inspiration and exposure at their library. San Jose Public Library (and its sharp new website) show you how its done.

My introduction to SJPL was via Librarian in Black, the popular blog of SJPL Digital Futures Manger and all around web-wizard Sarah Houghton-Jan. Sarah works to educate libraries and librarians on taking advantage of  the never ending waves of digital opportunity including digital imaging and by extension, Flickr. Her outreach and consulting efforts yielded her timely presentation “Best Free Web Stuff for Broke Libraries“, an amazing breakdown of all the great free and open access tools that are out there for libraries evermore on the cheap. Naturally, Sarah advocates the use of Flickr and SJPL’s Flickr is one of best accounts out there. With nearly 4000 photos organized into 111 sets and updated almost daily, SJPL surely sees social media as more than a passing fad of 2005. It is easily accessed from the homepage (along with SJPL’s Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feed) and many of the site’s pages feature a slide show in the sidebar to link users not familiar with those newfangled icons (Fr?…French?). Each branch has its own set, as do programs and events including non-library sanctioned events such as the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Which is pretty awesome.

In serving the aforementioned creative user, SJPL held a graphic novel contest this past spring, creating Flickr sets for the event and the top submissions. SJPL’s investment in its user is reflected in the amazing entries including Curious Conroy Cougar Comix (pictured above) and winning entry A Fine Day Out . Look at this!

If there was ever an argument for libraries making meaningful connections with their users social media, this is it, no improvements that this humble author might suggest needed. As if that wasn’t enough, all of SJPL’s photos are available under Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licensing, making them available to share and remix. And blog about.

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