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If the Library of Congress pins . . .

Walt Whitman boardIf the largest library in the world, with millions of books, photographs, maps and manuscripts pins, it makes a pretty serious case for a new type of curation for libraries, learning, and learners.

The white gloves are off.  The Library of Congress is a pretty serious pinner. It’s an example of how social media can open collections to new audiences, how sharing makes a difference, and of how libraries and museums now meet audiences where they live and play.

Recently, in honor of his May 31st birthday, the Walt Whitman board launched, joining the Library’s 40ish other boards and more than 1000 pins, and celebrating the great poet with images and documents from the Library’s collections. These efforts model new ways for all of us to curate, to add context and meaning to collections we could never before, well, collect, manipulate, juxtapose.

Pinning can be way bigger than prom.

Consider how this approach allows learners to play with primary sources, especially those in public domain. Tools like Pinterest create powerful platforms for sand-boxing document-based questions for analysis.  They permit students attractive opportunities and new agency as they assemble and examine multiple points through the raw materials of history.

Adding to its social media presence on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter (check out #TweetsOfGrass), Google+ and Facebook, the Library of Congress began its pinning efforts last year around this time to more effectively share its rich visual content–from maps and posters to photographs and sheet music.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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