Librarians Are Meeting Younger Readers Where They Are: TikTok

“It is our job to select, acquire, describe, make accessible and circulate preserved knowledge,” Drabinski added. “That’s the whole project. So as technology changes the ways things are circulated, we change with it.”

Librarians can also use TikTok to spread trustworthy information on a platform rife with manipulated content. “It is a space that requires critical information literacy,” said Jessie Loyer, an academic librarian in Calgary, Alberta who posts about topics including digital sovereignty and repatriation on TikTok under the handle @IndigenousLibrarian.

“Librarians have always been involved in helping people figure out what is real, what is relevant,” Loyer added. So TikTok, she said, is “a necessary space to be in, and a useful tool.”

Not everyone is on board with the idea of librarians posting on TikTok. Some library directors and boards find some TikTok accounts unprofessional, Vickers said. And some librarians are ambivalent about encouraging young people to use the platform. Elizabeth Miller, 22, a youth services librarian at the Rehoboth Beach Public Library in Rehoboth Beach, Del., said that while TikTok has potential for helping people make friends and explore hobbies, the app isn’t always a healthy environment for adolescents.

But others, including librarians at Kankakee Public Library, find that TikTok lets them engage with the community in person, too. The library often collaborates with local figures, including the mayor. “He’s always excited to do it,” said Greer, who helps make the videos. The library has plans to make TikToks with cheerleaders and the drama club at the local high school next year.

“We may not make them readers this year or next year,” said her colleague Mary Bass, 30, the youth services assistant supervisor and lead at the Kankakee library. “But they’ll know that we’re here as they grow up.”

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