About Pinterest

Pinterest: The Site

“An internet service where people can create and share collections of images – an online take on the time-honored tradition of collecting your favorite things in photo-albums, on refrigerators, in dog-eared stacks of clippings, or, of course, on physical cork-boards.”

-Paul Sciarra, Pinterest Co-founder

Paul Sciarra’s farewell blogpost describes the original intention and mission of Pinterest. Ideally it would be a virtual bookmarking site. Users would find content from all over the Web and save it in images to “boards.” Launched in 2012, by April 2012 Pinterest was the third most popular social networking site in the United States. (Stellrecht 404-405). Today in 2014 it has grown beyond the founder’s wildest dreams. While millions of users continue to use Pinterest as it was originally intended, businesses and organizations have also flocked to the social media site as a place for advertising and outreach. Libraries, including those at academic research institutions, are included in this group. However, Pinterest continues to advertise themselves as a virtual place of discovery, collection, and organization. As they say in this video: “Imagine if the internet was only stuff you love.”

Pinners: The Users

This technology relies on the participation of users. Pinners are responsible for creating, sharing, and spreading content in various ways. At its core, Pinterest is a social networking site with millions of users. According to Alexa.com, Pinterest is the 12th most popular site in the United States, and the 27th most popular throughout the world. Pinners are overwhelmingly female, which can impact marketing and outreach attempts by organizations. An important measure of a Pinterest account’s success is the number of followers. When academic libraries enter this online community they need to understand their target audience, and how responsive they will be to library content. This gender gap poses a problem, that will be further discussed under Steenbock Memorial Library.


Pins: The Content

When a user pins content to Pinterest, they are creating a linked copy of an image to a third-party source. For example, if Steenbock Memorial Library at University of Wisconsin Madison wanted to share a link from their catalog, they could pin it to an appropriate board and share it with their followers. They can choose to do this by creating a URL link through the Pinterest website. There is also a “Pin It” button available for web browsers. This enables a pinner to quickly and easily upload a pin directly from a website, without having to upload an image or a URL. Pinners can also upload their own images. Academic libaries, for example, may upload photos of recent library events or library staff. Once pins are uploaded they are organized into themed boards with similar content.

Every Pin is presented the same way Here is an example from Steenbock Memorial Library’s “Cheese Please!” board:


  1. Features at the top of the Pin allow pinners to save or share the content. When a pinner selects the “Pin it” button they are able to save it to their own organized boards, or “repin”. The “Like” button enables them to save content without repinning it. They can select “Visit Site” and be redirected to the source of the image. They can also opt to “Send” it to a friend or “Share” the Pin on Facebook.
  2. The image is the main component of the pin-it’s what makes Pinterest special. Although this image is a link, it is more than a mere link. It is an actual copy of the original image, that has been saved to the Pinterest servers. More information about this can be found under the Copyright Issues tab.
  3. A working link is a sign of a quality pin. Particularly if the image does not belong to the user, it is crucial to provide the proper attribution. In this example, Steenbock Memorial Library has provided a link to the catalog.
  4. This area is another opportunity to provide necessary attribution or explanation. When a user pins new content, they have an opportunity to add their own comments. Steenbock Memorial library uses this are to provide a brief summary of the book.
  5. This pin is from a board titled, “Cheese Please!” This section of the pin links you to the board, where you can find other similar pins.



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