Thursday, March 15, 2012

Memes - how they are used by libraries and librarians

If you spend any amount of time online, you will run into memes. Library memes exist also of course, for example I have written in the past about library memes and social media campaigns that try to save libraries (e.g #savelibraries, #buyalibrary etc).

Some clever sayings or quotes have become rallying calls for librarians and libraries.

Source: via Aaron on Pinterest

Source: via Aaron on Pinterest

Closely related are librarian related memes that are spread by librarians, many encourage and promote libraries or librarians (#followalibrarian on twitter ,  #followalibrary) , telling the world what we do (Library day in the life), or how we look like (This is what a librarian looks like , Library wardrobe) or some other quirky part of our lives (Librarian shoes? View from your library, Bad library signages?).

But these memes were basically started by influential librarians (Andy Woodworth and Bobbi Newman seem good at them) and generally are recognizable only to librarians (currently as I write this in ALA Think Tank Facebook group there's this weird meme of librarians posting animal toys on their desks!) but what about attempts to ride on existing memes popular on the net to market librarians or library services?

What people think I do...

Unless you are living in a cave without internet you can't have failed to miss all the jokey "what people think i do" memes that are everywhere.

These posters usually consist of 6 pictures focusing around one occupation such as doctors , pilots and then showing one picture each with a caption "What my friends think I Do..", "what my parents think I do.." and with the final punch line and picture "What I actually do". Here's a typical one on librarians.

                                                                           Source: via Aaron on Pinterest

Just for kicks I Collected about a dozen of so different ones on librarians on my pinterest board.

Ryan Gosling "hey girl" meme

I am not a big fan of Ryan Gosling but I must admit such memes can be funny. Here's one example.

For more see

Rage memes, lol cats etc

Andy Woodsworth tried to spice up National Library Card Sign-up Month by using memes including
Nyan Cat and Honey Badger 

Making memes

How difficult is it to make a meme? For most memes that involve just of a picture with a caption it's pretty easy. Even if you have zero photoshop skills there are meme generators all over the web including it seems Google+ that you can use that enable you to select a meme picture, enter text and drag the text where you want it. Examples include  , and in particular

It helps if you are already familiar with popular memes like "First world problems", "The most interesting man in the world",  "Y u no guy" etc but if not you can look at sites like Know your meme.

As I looked around on the web, I saw quite a few library related memes created by users. As you might expect many are negative, in particular the Y u no guy is easy meat. Here's one.

Source: via Aaron on Pinterest
Here's an example where it was actually entered in a feedback form!

Then there are ones that depict what actually happen in the library
and are neutral or funny.

Source: via Aaron on Pinterest
Another one
Source: via Aaron on Pinterest

But memes can be used positively too. In particular success kid seem ripe for usage. But first, a digression, why did I start thinking about memes and library? I noticed a NUS memes facebook page setup earlier in Feb and noticed it quickly garnered 1000 likes in a few weeks. Looking through the many entries I was struck that there were almost no library related entries and after realizing how easy it was to create one, we decided to try posting a few. Some of our attempts

Source: via Aaron on Pinterest

This is an inside joke that many may not get. Here's another attempt

This was followed with a comment that "yes, one does using endnote citation software" followed by link to a recorded webinar on the subject. This got about 30 likes.

We also experimented with LOL cat memes

This was to promote our Foursquare mayorship contest.

This was actually posted by a user who was a fan of our bookmarklet.

The possibilities are literally endless, you could in principle use memes for almost every library announcement whether for online posting on Facebook or in posters.

Need to market your new shiny discovery search?

Need reminders of Library etiquette?

Source: via Aaron on Pinterest

Meme contests?

How about holding a library meme contest? It seems this is already being done see .


This is pretty much a rambling piece about memes. I even created a pinterest board on library memes. I guess the question is how far can one go with using memes for marketing in libraries? It seems to me to be a interesting weapon in your toolkit, but like anything if used too often it can become stale or even cause a backlash for trying too hard to be hip.

The other main attempt to go "Viral" is to use videos which I covered in Funniest library related movie made using xtranormal & 12 good library videos that spoof TV or movies. Spoof movies and videos are of course far harder to make .... The only one that is relatively easy to handle is the Hitler Downfall parody videos but except for a few exceptions it is tricky to handle if you want to use it for libraries, so far  I have seen it use only to protest closure of libraries in the UK, see here , other examples I found were true rants by users unhappy about some library service.

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