"shelfie" posted by the Akron-Summit
County Public Library suggests an antidote to Fat
Tuesday binging as just one of the "shelfies"
the Akron library has posted on social media
Ohio — What do you get when bookshelves pose for a
group shelfie, of course.
ahead and groan, but give the Akron-Summit County Public
Library credit for a pretty good visual pun.
the last few weeks, the Ohio library has been coaxing
smiles from its social media followers with its "shelfies,"
cleverly planned photos of books and other materials on
its shelves. The pictures have included a shelfie of
Devo videos in memory of band member Bob Casale; a
roundup of Richard Simmons exercise videos as an
antidote for the indulgences of Fat Tuesday; and the
aforementioned group shot, a witty picture of rows of
shelves at the Main Library, sunlight streaming from a
window to give the photo some ironically misplaced
concept is, of course, a less narcissistic twist on
selfies, self-portraits that have become a staple on
social media sites.
Derr, the overseer of the library system’s social
media efforts and a committed foodie, had seen cookbook
shelfies on food sites and thought the concept might
work well for the library. He started posting the photos
in mid-February on the library’s Facebook, Twitter and
can follow the library’s shelfie exploits on Facebook
at facebook.com/akronlibrary, on Twitter at twitter.com/akronlibrary,
and on Instagram at instagram.com/akronlibrary.)
were trying to find a way to make our Facebook page a
little more interesting and get people talking,"
Derr said. It’s also a way to counter the impression
that the library is a staid place, he said.
certainly didn’t invent it," he said of the
trend, "but we’re willing to exploit it."
the shelfie idea started is hard to pinpoint, but the
concept was boosted by the British newspaper The
Guardian, which in December urged readers to post
pictures of their bookshelves on social media and
created the hashtag #shelfie to categorize the photos.
New York Public Library took the concept further,
declaring a Library Shelfie Day on Jan. 29 to encourage
postings by book lovers using the hashtag #libraryshelfie.
Organizers Morgan Holzer and Billy Parrott were inspired
by Museum Selfie Day earlier that month, when museum
employees and visitors were urged to shoot themselves
— metaphorically speaking — in front of museum
displays as a way of promoting those exhibits.
and Parrott posted shelfies every day for a week leading
up to Shelfie Day to stir up interest. But they didn’t
see much evidence of the event being promoted by other
libraries, so they anticipated getting maybe 100
submissions, said Holzer, the New York library’s
information architect and unofficial keeper of its
the end of the day, about 1,500 photos had been posted
on Instagram and another 1,800 on Twitter, she said.
"It was kind of insane."
were photos of bookshelves arranged in rainbow order,
photos of cats on bookshelves, photos of people hiding
behind books. They came from individuals as well as 248
libraries and other institutions from 14 countries,
including a hospital library and a fourth-grade class in
Derr is trying to keep the fun going in Akron, but
feeding the shelfie beast isn’t always easy. He had
some trouble coming up with a theme for last Wednesday’s
post, the start of Lent being off limits for such
tongue-in-cheek treatment. But his research turned up an
obscure observance: National Cheese Doodle Day.
did a run to the vending machines, and thankfully we had
some cheese doodles," he said. The result: a
shelfie showing a bowlful of the unnaturally colored
snacks next to books on cheese. After all, who hasn’t
snacked on something sinful while in the grip of a good
admitted the library might have sent a confusing message
with that one. "Typically, we discourage that
behavior," he said with a laugh.
if the post encourages people to read, he said, then it’s
worth a few orange-stained pages.