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Librarians get creative, meet readers on TikTok
The social media platform is helping librarians promote services, engage younger patrons and connect with the community
MARION — Lara Moellers’ advice for filming TikTok — videos posted on the social media platform — is “let go of pride and have fun with it.”
Moellers is a children and family services assistant librarian at the Marion Public Library. She enjoys filming creative videos for the social media platform to help educate the public about the services the library offers — and entertain at the same time.
After 22 years working in libraries, Moellers said she’s noticed a misconception that libraries are supposed to be quiet. She’s trying to turn that around with TikTok. “You know you’ve made it when you get shushed by a patron,” Moellers said with a laugh.
Last week, Moellers held a story time for almost 50 toddlers. That wasn’t quiet, she said.
The Marion Public Library is joining libraries across the nation on the social media platform, dancing to viral songs and bonding with co-workers. Since joining TikTok a year and a half ago, the Marion Public Library has gained more than 370 followers. The videos posted on their profile — the handle is @marionpubliclibrary — each receive hundreds of “likes.”
People have even begun directing questions to librarians to learn more about the services offered at the Marion Public Library. Kids see the librarians’ faces on TikTok and feel like they already know them, making them feel more welcome when they visit the library.
Becca Draus, Marion Public Library children and adult programmer, agrees it’s a great way to show the public libraries are more than quiet reading spaces. For one TikTok video, she slid down the library’s new slide face first. The slide is intended for children age 9 and younger.
“It’s getting to show the fun and joy of this space,” she said.
On TikTok, the librarians’ personalities can shine, said Ashley Osborn, Marion library’s marketing and special events manager.
One of Osborn’s favorite TikToks the library produced was with the Linn-Mar High School cross-country team. She filmed them running books from the library’s former location to its new building to the tune of “Let’s Get It Started” by the Black Eyed Peas in October 2022.
“They loved it, and I think the public loves to see us collaborating.”
Libraries today are so much more than books, Osborn said. ”We have something for everybody, whether you’re a reader, content creator or someone who wants to learn how to sew.“
@marioniapubliclibrary 770 days later, we finally got to the good part 🙌🥳 #librarytok #marionia #booktok #fyp #librariansoftiktok ♬ Can we skip to the good part X ajwavy - AjWavy
@marioniapubliclibrary The race is on until the new library building opens! Thank you to the Linn-Mar Cross Country team for “running” books from our Uptown location to the new building! 😁 #uptownmpl #marionia #library #librarytiktok #crosscountry #running #linnmar ♬ Let’s Get It Started - The Party Players
The Davenport Public Library also is meeting its patrons on TikTok and has almost 5,000 followers and more than 261,000 likes on all their videos. Their handle is @davenportpubliclibrary.
“We all did a happy dance when we saw how popular it was,” said Brittany Peacock, community outreach supervisor at the Davenport Public Library.
Their TikTok page features smiling librarians sharing information about how the library operates and what programs and services are available. One example is how a library card can help people save money by renting textbooks for school instead of buying them.
People come into the library and feel welcomed because they’ve seen the librarians on TikTok, Peacock said. Librarians partner with the library’s teen advisory board — whose members help make decisions about the library’s teen space, what books to buy and summer reading prizes — to create content.
“We really want to crush the stigma that libraries are cold and institutional. We want to show we have amazingly talented and welcoming people,” Peacock said. “If I ever need a pick-me-up, I’m going to our TikTok page.”
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