Libraries Are the Original Influencer

Long before social media, public libraries influenced what their patrons were reading.

Before Instagram and TikTok, there was (and still is) your public library.

As a result of social media culture and its meteoric rise over the past decade, the word “influencer” has come to be associated with social media, product placement, and big, bombastic online personalities, but things weren’t always so corporate. At one point, the community itself was an influencer, and the institutions that kept it alive and well played a part in its influence. Libraries, of course, played an extremely important role in this and continue to do so to this day, so we put together a project to figure out what exactly they tend to do.


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The Freckle Project

Called the Freckle Project, our project aimed to figure out who was reading, how they were reading, and where they were getting their reading materials from. Through our research, we discovered a marked increase in the demand for e-books and audiobooks, while the demand for physical books has slightly declined.

However, these changes were much less noticeable in small children, who still overwhelmingly prefer to read books in print. This information, though seemingly random at first, actually points to the importance of libraries as sources of information and influence and the many roles they still play.

Providing Multi-Format Access to Books

While preferences for book formats may change, the library’s commitment to providing them won’t. Libraries have adapted to the rise of e-books and audiobooks by adjusting their stock accordingly, allowing people to store their checked-out books on their personal devices and take them wherever they go. However, they’ve also been intentional about continuing to supply physical books, appealing to small children and adults who simply prefer the feel of a more conventional reading experience.


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The Effect of BookTok

While librarians don’t exactly fit the mold of the modern influencer, they’ve also adapted to the times. This has resulted in BookTok, a TikTok subculture in which librarians talk about their favorite topics, genres, and books, offering recommendations to passionate readers and encouraging viewers to support their local libraries. 

Using the massive visibility that TikTok fame provides, these librarians and the libraries they run have seen massive boosts in foot traffic and book checkouts, introducing an entire generation of young readers to the importance of their local libraries and what they contribute to the community.

If you’d like to learn more about how libraries are adapting to an ever-changing audience of readers and how you can help them through this change, visit us at EveryLibrary today!



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This work by EveryLibrary is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0