Pinterest: curation, image sharing, collaborating, bookmarking & obsession

Like so many other folks, I’m having a lot of fun with Pinterest. When it released invitations last spring, I grabbed one and included it in my school library workshops as a way for students to gather images and curate collections of ideas for projects. But mostly I tried to forget that I knew about it, it was just too much fun and tempting to spend far too much time there. Fast forward….. interest in Pinterest has exploded and finally a client asked me to use it for a legit work purpose, really. Thank you Karen!

This week I set up an account for your NYS Summer Reading program and added boards for programming ideas, crafts and book trailer videos. The idea is to have folks collaborate and add pins with fun ideas. And after the experience of setting up this account and starting to add collaborators, I wanted to share the tips I learned about Pinterest. Or maybe I’m just justifiying playing with it some more. Whatever!

What is Pinterest?

Not familiar with Pinterest? It’s an image-based social network where members set up pinboards for their favorite obsessions and interests and add photos and images that (in theory, more on that later) link back to the original source of the image. If I see a craft project that has a fabulous image to go with it, I can pin that image on my Crafts board and share it with others. Pinterest doesn’t have a private board option, so everyone in the world can see everything you post.

Pinterest is… Social networking, image sharing, collaboration, social bookmarking, curation…. a little bit of everything. In the US, Pinterest is incredibly popular with woman who are interested in crafts, home, fashion, etc. In the UK, the majority of users are male and topics of interest are venture capital, public relations, marketing, etc. An interesting contrast. Obviously businesses and other organizations are catching on to this as a way to drive traffic to their products. (source: Mashable)

Pinterest is Social: Other members can follow all your boards or just the ones that interest them. When they visit Pinterest, they’ll see all the new images, or pins as they’re called, from all the people they follow. They can choose to repin an item to one of their own boards, comment on a pin or simply “like” a pin. It’s also easy to connect with and follow your Facebook friends and you’re also encouraged to share your pins on Facebook & Twitter.

Pinterest is Collaboration: Pinterest does allow collaboration on boards, though the path to collaboration is a bit awkward. To add a collaborator, you have to first follow their boards. The help files say you can just follow one of their boards, but as of this week, that option wasn’t working for me. I had to “follow all” to add them as collaborators. To add the collaborator, view your board, click EDIT, click “me & contributors”, start typing a name and ADD them.

Pinterest as Search: Searching Pinterest will turn up lots of interesting ideas, even though the search functions in Pinterest are rather weak at the moment. Given that Pinterest is still in it’s infancy, no doubt this will change. Right now you can browse everyone’s pins by broad categories like Architecture, Home Decor, Technology etc. You can search by keywords and narrow to Pins, Boards or People. And of course you can explore who other people are following and find new people and boards to follow that way.


Give credit: I’ve noticed lots of pins that don’t go back to the original source for the image. Without the original source for a recipe, a craft idea, a wonderful new cabinet design for my kitchen, I won’t be able to make that chocoloate mousse or make that cool glow in the dark cupcake frosting. Or worse, not know which vineyard to visit to sit at this clever picnic table with a wine cooler built in.

Pin It Bookmarklet: The PinIt bookmarklet button makes it simple to add something to a pinboard directly from your browser.

Share Your Content: There’s also code to integrate a PinIt button into your own web site to encourage others to share your content. Darien Public Library has added a PinIt button to their catalog. You could  add PinIt buttons to your blog posts, events listings, archival image pages, etc. There are currently 20 WordPress plugins that integrate some sort of Pinterest functionality. Which of course is an excuse for another post soon.

To get started: check out Mashable’s: Pinterest: A Beginner’s Guide to the Hot New Social Network

Signing up for an account: This is last on purpose, because I hope this will get easier. Pinterest is still in “invite only” mode, but it’s easy to get an invite these days since members seem to have an endless supply of invites. However, when you get an invite, you can’t set up an account unless you also have a Facebook or Twitter account. Perhaps this is a purposeful barrier at the moment to keep Pinterest from growing too fast? I don’t know. I just know it was a pain to set up an account for our summer reading project. I had to tie it to one of my extra twitter accounts that I use just for demo purposes. As soon as I finished setting up the Pinterest account, I was able to “disconnect” it from that Twitter account.

Pinterest Board Ideas

  • Great Images for Presentations: Heather Braum’s board for CC licensed photos. This board made me realize how useful Pinterest could be.
  • Somers Library: Tons of book boards based on popular topics, awards, best-sellers etc.
  • Summer Reading: Collaborative boards to share ideas for the CSLP summer reading themes.
  • Teen Programming in Libraries: A collaborative board set up by Heather Booth and tons of collaborators. It has a following of over 4,000 people!
  • Flannel Fridays: Flannelboard ideas.
  • And I know there are tons more! Leave a comment if you have a great library Pinterest idea!

3 thoughts on “Pinterest: curation, image sharing, collaborating, bookmarking & obsession”

  1. Hi!

    I am also a total Pinterest-aholic. You can also use Picnic which is made for Pinterest users to help find the source image of their pins or where to buy pins they like. Its a free bookmarklet:


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