Tumblarian 101: A Starter Kit

Welcome to Tumblr! By now (I hope), you’ve picked a URL and set up your theme. Now, you have to figure out a) who to follow, b) what tags to track, and c) how and d) what to post.

Who to Follow

Well, the Library Journal tumblr. (Hello.) Also check out Tumblr’s favorite book-related tumblrs. (NYPL, The Lifeguard Librarian, Librarian Wardrobe, and LJ are included here.) Kate Tkacik (pronounced Ta-Chick)–aka The Lifeguard Librarian–maintains a list of librarians and librarians on Tumblr. (Want to be added? Tell her!) Rebecca Hopman–aka Ex-Tabulis–maintains a similar list of archivists and archives. Click around! See what you like! Follow folks who make you think, make you laugh, make you sit forward in your chair.

Tags to Track / Use

The primary community tags are #libraries#librarians, and #Tumblarians. The singular versions, #library and #librarian, don’t have much going on. The curated tags #politics#history#education#lit, and #tech are also useful. (You can find a list of popular, curated tags at tumblr.com/explore.)

To track a tag, search for it in the white, upper right hand corner field. Once the search results appear, a blue button that says “track” will also pop up in the right hand side of the search field. Click it, and you are set.

How to Post

The easiest way for me to post to Tumblr is to use the bookmarklet. Go tumblr.com/apps; at the top you will see a big gray button that says “Share on Tumblr.” Point, click, and drag that button (aka bookmarklet) to your browser’s toolbar or bookmarks folder. That way, while you are reading an article you find interesting enough to share on Tumblr, you can highlight a bit of text you want to quote, click on the bookmarklet (which will cause the quote to pop up an auto-prepared post), and publish it to your tumblr. This makes posting to Tumblr much, much easier.

In general, it’s good to post fairly frequently and throughout the day (generally I post 8am-7pm EST, but really whenever). This can be accomplished remotely by adding your posts to your tumblr’s queue, which will roll them out automatically in regular intervals.

What to Post

Well, it’s up to you. In general, Tumblr is a more informal space. Don’t be afraid to crack bad jokes, post a selfie, reference a tv show, or get nerdy about cataloging. Talk about the things you like (in terms of librarianship and otherwise)–chances are other people will like them too.

Don’t be afraid to reblog. Don’t be afraid to write short. (Don’t be afraid to write long, either!) Don’t be afraid to give yourself the time to get a feel for the medium.

Further Reading

Check out the Powerpoint for the ALA 2013 Conversation Starter, Tumblarian 101.

I also highly encourage you to check out LJ’s recent article about the Tumblarian community, The Library Is Open: A Look at Librarians and Tumblr. (Yes, I wrote it.)