Choosy librarians choose GIFs


The new trend in libraries is switching to online access for many journal and monograph titles. This not only addresses the issue of what to do when space is limited, but also offers information access to users who cannot make it to the physical building. However, many people have a devotion to print books and do not want them to become a thing of the past. Like it or not, nothing symbolizes a library more than a good old fashioned book! One reason this fact may not be more obvious is that patrons are not always aware of the richness of their own library’s collection. Throughout the next few months, I will explore various ways that librarians are creatively using social media to highlight unique works within their stacks to draw awareness to holdings and improve usage statistics.

Perhaps the simplest way is with the use of GIFs. A GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format, is a way of creating short animations at low resolution. These are easily made and make for catchy graphics on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Got an interesting book, map, score, or other item you would like your users to discover? Find a clever way to turn it into a GIF!

The University of Iowa created a series of GIFs to show off some hidden paintings on the edges of some of the books’ pages located in their Special Collections Department. Just a few stills looped together created an animation of the beautiful artwork that patrons might not otherwise have been aware of. Advertising these GIFs on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc would surely be of interest to art students, book lovers, historians, and more!


This example shows how many monographs are unique works of art in themselves and have the ability to draw patrons in, which an e-book would not be able to do. Works like this should not be lost because it’s part of our history and something that lends itself well to a visual display on social media.

There are plenty of sites available that allow you to make free GIFs, though you may have to decide whether or not you wish to have a logo or watermark in one corner. Sites typically will remove this mark if you pay to create an account, and some even indicate that paid customers can have the option of having higher quality GIFs produced as part of their fee. A few free sites I’ve stumbled across include,, and It’s as easy as adding images or video clips, editing to size, then downloading the finished product to your computer. The file can then be uploaded to whichever social media site you wish to advertise on. Enjoy making engaging visuals for future posts!




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