June 20, 2024

Our Favorite Tumblrs: LJ and SLJ’s Tumblrs-in-Chief Share Choice Follows with a Library/Literary Flair

So many fun Tumblrs out there, not the least of which—dare we say—are our own. With posts documenting everything from office shenanigans to an insider’s view of the publishing scene—cheerily animated with GIFs—the Tumblr sites of School Library Journal and our sister publication, Library Journal, have gained a following.

Chelsey Philpot, associate editor, SLJ Book Review, and Molly McArdle, assistant editor, LJ Book Review, are the Tumblrs-in-chief, respectively. And the two should be pleased as punch to see the blogs named to “The Great Taxonomy of Literary Tumblrs,” a list curated by Nick Moran on the site “The Millions.”

“Where I Work: Cecil Castellucci,” a post in the series from SLJ’s Tumblr

“My favorite posts to work on have been the ones where we show a slice of life at our office; photos of piles of books, cartoon signs about our battles with the air conditioning, and the “Where I Work” author profiles,” says Philpot, who began the image series after SLJ launched on Tumblr this March. “As an editor/writer, I love to see where other writers put paper to pen (or fingertips to keyboard). So far Maggie Stiefvater, Lois Lowry, and Sara Zarr have contributed, and there are many more fantastic writers, illustrators, and library professionals in the pipeline.”

McArdle took on LJ’s Tumblr when she joined the staff in August 2011 and brought the inactive account to life. In addition to helping “develop the brand,” she’s particularly keen on engaging younger librarians and library students.

“I like the medium because it’s much more informal and conversational than other online outlets—even Twitter,” says McArdle. “There is only so much you can add with a retweet, but when you reblog another person’s post, you have the opportunity to really make it your own. It’s also much easier to trace the history of a conversation, or a popular post, in Tumblr: you can see the ancestry of an idea. Plus: gifs. For LJ’s Tumblr, I try and find a nice mix of book, publishing, and library news, relevant images, and memes. The key is brevity and color.”

Philpot’s faves on Tumblr:

The Underground New York Public Library.  “I secretly want to be caught reading Ulysses or something dense and impressive by the photographer of this site. If my purse wasn’t already so filled with magazines and books, I would haul around a musty old hardcover just in case. He captures readers on the New York City subway and describes what they’re reading. Beautiful photos and addictive for readers.”

The Why We Broke Up Project. “This site invites readers to share their stories of heartbreak and humor, disgust and love, despair and hope. It’s as moving as the book that inspired it: Daniel Handler’s Printz Honor winner, Why We Broke Up.

You Choose Wrong. “Remember “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? Remember how disappointing it was to go with option two and end up in a snake pit or devoured by cannibals? Well this twisted and fantastic site gathers all the unhappy outcomes in one place. Always good for a laugh.”


A sneak peek of the shelf of advance reading copies at Darien Library, by Erin Shea who manages Darien’s Tumblr

McArdle was hard pressed to narrow down her list from the 250 that she tracks. But here she cites four, which, she says, represent the range of Tumblrs out there. In her words:

First is librarians Kate Tkacik’s The Lifeguard Librarian. It’s a mixture of personal details (I ended up buying my own pair of duck shoes after seeing pictures of Kate’s pair for so many wet winter months), book appreciation, and library talk. Kate’s tumblr was the first I got to know really well.

Second I’m going to suggest George Peabody Library’s Wunderkammer! (MD), the tumblr of the Johns Hopkins 19th century research library. They do a great job of reaching into their archives and pulling out the zippiest, most colorful morsels to share on the internet.

Third is the Darien Library Tumblr, an excellent example of how a public library can take Tumblr by storm. Darien does a great job of taking pictures of all of their wide-ranging events, leavening library promotion with a heaping dose of humor and the occasional gif.

Fourth (speaking of gifs) is Librarian Problems, the gif-king of all librarian Tumblrs. The rapid growth of Tumblr as a platform and the renewed relevance of gifs as a medium/format are inextricably linked, and Librarian Problems takes full advantage of this relationship. Librarians deserve gifs, too.

But, of course, McArdle couldn’t stop there. Other choice Tumblrs include:

Detail from the Tumblr Underground New York Public Library.

Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (kishizuka@mediasourceinc.com, @kishizuka on Twitter) is Executive Editor of School Library Journal.