Social Media in Libraries: An Interview with the Social Media Managers at the Morgan Library and Museum

by Stella Sigal, MSLIS Candidate and Themis Brown Reading Room Intern at the Morgan Library and Museum

“If it can’t be found on the Internet, it doesn’t exist.” As we move into the Twenty-First century, industries have transitioned to a social media platform to promote their products. With a click of a button, users can easily access information. Traditional cultural institutions, such as the Morgan Library and Museum, have embraced this revolution. Online social media platforms offer institutions an unusual opportunity to interact with patrons outside their physical walls. This facilitates educational dialogue and offers institutions a chance to showcase their programming to a larger audience.

The Morgan’s social media managers, Moriah Shtull and Michelle Perlin, offer their thoughts on promoting the library’s collections and educational programs and its transition to social media.

Q: The Morgan Library and Museum has made its transition to social media. What are some of the benefits?

A: The mission of the Morgan is “to preserve, build, study, present, and interpret a collection of extraordinary quality, in order to stimulate enjoyment, excite the imagination, advance learning, and nurture creativity,” and social media presents an unparalleled opportunity for outreach to a global audience. From scholars to casual lovers of art, literature, and museum culture, our accounts attract interest from people of all ages and backgrounds. We reveal objects from the collection and behind-the-scenes moments that most people would not regularly have the chance to see, and through this, foster a dialogue. It’s engaging, it’s fun, and it’s a true pleasure to be part of a larger online conversation on art, museums, and culture.

Q: What is the difference in how non-profit and for-profit organizations use social media?

A: A for-profit has a larger budget to boost up their advertisements than a not-for-profit. Also, our users are interested in our services while users interested in a for-profit are interested in a product. They are interested in interacting with our work for the long term. For instance, a user might subscribe to a for-profit social media outlet but unsubscribe after they are finished using their service. Our users are interested in our programming, exhibitions, and the arts for the long term.

Q: Do users become interested in learning more about an object once it has been posted?

A: Yes and no – it depends on where it is posted. Different social media platforms attract different users. On Facebook we tend to have more scholarly followers who ask questions and have discussions on our posts. We rarely receive the same response from our users on Instagram and Twitter. Twitter is more superficial and does not easily create dialogue with users.

Q: What are some innovations in social media you have implemented at the Morgan Library and Museum?

A:  The Morgan Library and Museum, like other cultural institutions, has partnered with Instagram to create meet-ups. We invited famous photographers to photograph the library and its gallery space before opening hours. We opened early for them to roam the halls of the museum. Through their work, our followers have grown.

Q: What are other ways that you are connecting users to your work?

A: We are now asking visitors to share photos of their experiences at the Morgan Library and Museum and add #MorganLibrary. When museum visitors utilize their social media accounts to post their pictures of their visit at the Morgan, they have invited us to be a part of their visit. It is truly rewarding to see our work enjoyed by our users.

Q: What are the most liked and reached posts on social media?

A: Our medieval manuscripts and illuminated pages receive the most attention from our users. Anything old usually gets a lot of attention. Many of our medieval manuscripts have been digitized and can be easily posted onto social media. It is harder to post images that are within copyright. We never need to worry if a medieval manuscript is in copyright and it is also beautiful.

Q: What is the number one thing a librarian should consider when creating an online presence?

A: When creating an online presence for an institution, librarians should focus on the voice they would like create. When creating an online presence, we chose to project the voice of the cool yet scholarly professor.

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