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UNF librarian utilizes popular online memes to engage with students on social media

Maria Atilano holding a copy of the May/June 2021 issue of Marketing Library ServicesMaria Atilano, student outreach librarian, has recently published the feature article “How to Make Memes and Influence Students” in the May/June 2021 issue of Marketing Library Services (MLS). Atilano was invited to write and submit an article on how libraries can create and utilize social media memes in order to better reach their users, especially Millennials and Gen Z. The editor of MLS, Kathy Dempsey, personally reached out to Atilano to write a piece that would encourage other library marketers to spin pop culture references into valuable tools to promote library services and resources.

For the Carpenter Library, that meant using the Bernie Sanders mittens meme to promote using an Osprey 1Card to enter the building, the Carpool Karaoke Elton John meme to popularize referring to the Thomas G. Carpenter Library as “Tommy G’s”, various Baby Yoda memes to showcase the tranquility of the library, and more. Atilano has been managing the library’s social media accounts for more than ten years, and she finds that creating and sharing these memes is one of her favorite things to do in her role. The library’s meme posts often garner a large amount of likes and engagement, especially on Instagram and Facebook. Their most popular Instagram post to date is the Bernie Mittens meme with more than 560 likes, 278 shares and over 5,000 impressions. In her article for MLS, Atilano discusses the need to research memes as well as tie them to a learning objective or takeaway. While the majority of the Carpenter Library’s social media posts are informational, their most engaging and far-reaching posts are memes.

Atilano also co-presented the session “Keeping Your Social (Media) Distance: Library Engagement in the Time of COVID” with Giannina Medell, outreach services associate, during the Northeast Florida Library Information Network (NEFLIN) Technology Conference on May 6. NEFLIN covers member libraries from Duval and 23 other counties in NE Florida. The Technology Conference is held every two years and took place virtually this year. Librarians from all over Florida were invited to attend due to the virtual format.

Atilano and Medell’s presentation was the only breakout session about social media and drew in nearly 50 attendees. They discussed how the Carpenter Library pivoted from in-person outreach to all online programming and promotion starting when the UNF campus closed in mid-March of 2020. They covered what worked well (and not so well) for the library over the past year, best social media practices for other libraries and how they plan to use social media differently even after the campus returns to “normal.” The two especially encouraged other libraries to use Instagram stories, specifically question/poll stickers, to increase engagement and to not be afraid to try new things.

To view Atilano and Medell’s NEFLIN presentation slides, visit this link