In December 2020, I co-organized a library meme contest for the Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning (CPDWL) Section and in partnership with the New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG) under the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
To celebrate International Volunteers Day (December 5, 2020), we created a weekend event that online librarians and students from all over the world could participate in. Participants were tasked to create library memes to share on social media channels with the CPDWL Section. There were guidelines to ensure that participants were using copyright-free images, graphics, and other designs.
From December 4–6, 2020, we received more than 15 submissions from librarians and students in Turkey, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Austria, Mexico, Germany, Canada, and the United States. However, what was interesting is that our social media channels had a 1,000% boost in viewership. Across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, many people shared, re-shared, and viewed these memes for fun. At the end, all contributed memes were judged by CPDWL Section members who were librarians and educators from around the world. Three memes were selected, and the creators would be awarded a prize by our sponsoring partner, Skilltype, a professional development app for library workers.
You might be wondering why I am sharing this. This event was actually quite a surprise for many people in the library community. Many people were excited to participate in this activity and shared their contributions under the extraordinary circumstances that we are living in now. If you are thinking of ways to engage with your community of users, consider a friendly library meme contest. Participants can really get into this event and show their support for your library through social media.
Here are some ways to get a library meme contest going:
- We were inspired by the guidelines from NNLM’s Member Meme Contest, which celebrated Medical Librarians Month and Health Literacy Month! Their work really gave us ideas on how to plan for a global social media activity.
- Make sure you choose a date when you have volunteers available to check the different social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. These different channels can come streaming at different times and moments of the day. We also encouraged meme creators to email us their memes so we could share with others, too. This might be easier to organize. By requiring an email submission, you can collect all the graphics at once and share them during the day.
- Use the hashtag, and require participants to use the hashtag. Create a hashtag that won’t be buried under major ones. We chose #InternationalVolunteersDay, but we realized it would be difficult to find what we are looking for. We also added #WeAreIFLA, which made it easier for us to find the graphics under that hashtag on the days of the event.
- Create some library memes in advance to promote the contest. This was quite fun since you can use many of these free stock photos. Consider Unsplash, Disabled and Here Collection, or Jopwell. There are also tons of image collections in the public domain by NYPL’s Digital Collection and the British Museum’s Collection.
- Make sure you have a theme that resonates with your library and your users! Don’t forget to give out prizes to your meme creators/winners! This will entice more to participate! You can consider giving away library swag, too.
Overall, these activities should create an opportunity for your users to engage with one another and the library’s content! Have fun with the planning and event!
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