2017 #SMSociety Theme: Social Media for Social Good or Evil

Our online behaviour is far from virtual–it extends our offline lives. Much social media research has identified the positive opportunities of using social media; for example, how people use social media to form support groups online, participate in political uprising, raise money for charities, extend teaching and learning outside the classroom, etc. However, mirroring offline experiences, we have also seen social media being used to spread propaganda and misinformation, recruit terrorists, live stream criminal activities, reinforce echo chambers by politicians, and perpetuate hate and oppression (such as racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic behaviour).

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Saturday, July 29 • 14:00 - 15:00
Panel 2B: Instagram And The Rare Books Community: An Insiders’ View

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Panel Speakers: Alvan Bregman, David Fernandez, Jillian Sparks and Robin Desmeules

Abstract: This panel will be based on the experiences of three successful programs addressing the rare book community on Instagram: it will focus on both theoretical and practical aspects of this project. Within their individual presentations, panelists will describe the development of their Instagram programs in terms of goals and objectives, assessment and outcomes. They will consider the place of Instagram within a larger social media/communication strategy and the extent to which it is integrated with other social media platforms. The question of audience will be addressed: do programs mostly tap into an existing community or do they create a new community? Experiences with keeping and making use of statistics and other records, time spent and overhead costs, and posting norms and etiquette will also be shared. Areas for future research will be examined. 

David Fernández’ talk is entitled “On the use of instant commonplace books”. In it, he outlines the significance of photo-sharing applications in the context of rare books and special collections libraries and explores how social media platforms like Instagram have brought together communities of readers, bibliophiles, book historians, and librarians in the last six years. He examines the multiple methods used to present images of books, manuscripts, archives and other heritage materials to diverse audiences, while also formulating ideas about curating compelling and relevant content. Two arguments are presented: first, that Instagram is an effective interface to participate in substantial conversations on the nature of rare books and special collections; second, that this application can also be viewed as a commonplace or scrapbook as it enables users to compile not only images but also knowledge into rather organized systems. Ultimately, it is suggested that Instagram has a central role in the development of online identities for rare books and special collections libraries in response to their mission as centres of knowledge and research. 

Prior to starting their Instagram account in January 2016, the W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections at Queen's University was a relatively unknown library. Jillian Sparks will present on how Instagram has put W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections on the map and generated international connections within the rare book community. Her talk will highlight community-driven hashtag challenges, engagement by Queen's University users versus outside users, and finding a unique voice within the #librariesofinstagram community. 

Launched in February 2016, @mcgill_rare is the labour of love of a dynamic quartet of McGill librarians from four different branches and units in the Library. Robin Desmeules will provide an overview of their work to build a following, to develop general guidelines and procedures, and to balance all of this work as a team, harmonizing individual perspectives into a collective voice for McGill’s Instagram feed. This talk will reflect on lessons learned, navigating current issues and events, and the role the wider rare books Instagram community played in helping to shape this voice through shared hashtags and challenges. 


Alvan Bregman
(panel chair) is Head, W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections, Queen’s University Library, Kingston, Ontario. He received his Ph.D. and MLS from the University of Toronto. He is also Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where for many years he was the Rare Book Collections Librarian. He is the author of Emblemata: The emblem books of Andrea Alciato (Newton, PA: 2007) and of numerous articles on rare books and special collections. 

Robin Desmeules has been a Rare Books Cataloguing Librarian at McGill University since April 2015, and is one of four librarians responsible for managing the Instagram account @mcgill_rare, alongside Jennifer Garland, Sarah Severson, and Anna Dysert. Robin obtained her MLIS from McGill University in 2014, and holds a MA in Music and Culture from Carleton University and a BA in Music and Political Science from Laurentian University. Her current research interests involve critical approaches to knowledge organization and epistemology, intersectional librarianship, and tinkering with linked data. 

David Fernández is a Rare Book Librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. His work, research, and teaching interests focus on the history of the book, Latin American Studies, and Colonialism. David is mainly responsible for the @fisherlibrary Instagram account. 

Jillian Sparks is the Special Collections Librarian at W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. She holds a MLIS and Certificate in Books Studies from the University of Iowa and a MA in English from the University of Victoria. Her current research interests include special collections instruction and primary source literacy, history of the book and bookbinding, and the scientific works of John Wilkins. Jillian is also the curator of the Robertson Davies Collection and coordinates the social media accounts for @jordan_library. 

Saturday July 29, 2017 14:00 - 15:00 EDT
TRS 1-075 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9

Attendees (8)