Get Outside the Lines at Your Library with Social Media

Cedar Rapids coaster

You know your library rocks — but does your community know it? To change perceptions of the library, we need to demonstrate how the library is not only relevant but is also a place for fun and learning. Outside the Lines is a weeklong celebration (September 11 – 17, 2016) that showcases the creativity and innovation happening in libraries.

A big component of sharing this creativity is by way of social media. For a recent webinar, we invited Erica Grossman, creative lead in the Innovations Department at Anythink Libraries in Adams County, Colorado, to share some tips for participating in Outside the Lines. Erica was part of the creative team that developed and launched Outside the Lines and is currently on its planning committee.

You can watch the full webinar here, but here are some of the highlights.  

Why Should You Get Outside the Lines?

How many times have you been asked at a party or family event, "You work in a LIBRARY? Do people actually go to libraries anymore when the Internet has everything?" It would be so nice if we never had to answer those questions ever again. Outside the Lines can help eradicate some of those misconceptions.

"Let's not just tell people how libraries have changed; let's show them."

  • Libraries that participate commit to doing one event with a social media component during that week of September.
  • When your library participates in an Outside the Lines campaign, it …
  • Gets people thinking — and talking — about libraries in a different way.
  • Showcases the library out in the community as well as in the library. You're meeting people in the community where they are.
  • Highlights how your library is relevant to people's lives.
  • Represents your community by showcasing unique local businesses or events.
  • Is active versus passive and gets people engaged.
  • Is extraordinary and unexpected — it doesn't have to be a big splashy event; sometimes the little things can have an impact.
  • And most importantly, it's fun! If you and your staff are having a great time, you pass that enthusiasm on to your patrons.

Some Social Best Practices

Erica shared some best practices for using social media to promote your Get Outside the Lines event.

  • Keep it simple — ease of use is important for social users. Try not to incorporate too many instructions or hashtags. Besides, on some platforms, such as Twitter, you're limited in the number of characters you can share.
  • Find staff members that are engaged and excited. If library staff is excited about your Outside the Lines event, that will carry over to your patrons.
  • Tag local and smart. Encourage sharing by tagging relevant local businesses, organizations, or outlets when appropriate.
  • Track your social media stats and set goals, such as growing your Instagram followers by 100.

Leveraging Social Media

Erica encouraged participants to use the #getOTL hashtag across social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Following the hashtag can help you find out what other libraries are doing in their campaigns. Erica said the hashtag is a way that libraries can share stories together. "We are all in this together, and social media is a great way to showcase that," she said.

Outside the Lines provides graphics (see below) to help libraries get started with their campaign.

Get OTL badges

These fun graphics can help you start get the conversation rolling with your community and encourage them to use the #getOTL hashtag.

The Outside the Lines team had a fun surprise when best-selling author Jackie Collins shared her own library story on Facebook. This was totally unexpected because the Outside the Lines team hadn't done any outreach to Jackie! It really speaks to the fun and participatory elements of this campaign.

Jackie Collins tweet

How Different Libraries Get Outside the Lines

Ready to Get Outside the Lines, but not sure where to start? Throughout the webinar, Erica shared some very cool campaigns from libraries both large and small.

  • The Cedar Rapids Public Library in Iowa created Outside the Lines coasters and invited patrons to turn the coasters into a piece of art. People returned the finished coasters to the library via bookdrop or in person. The library then used the coasters to create public art pieces around the library and posted the images on social media.

  • The Los Alamos County Library System in New Mexico hosted storytime with the local roller derby team at a skating rink. The library got the roller derby team to promote the event on social media.

  • The Florence-Lauderdale Public Library in Alabama did an #FLPLeverywhere campaign to engage younger members of the community through social media. The library created posters and t-shirts and announced where they would be out in the community using the hashtag.

  • The Douglas County Public Libraries in Colorado created the Brew Tour 2015 Passport. Participants brought their passports to the participating breweries in the area and got their passport stamped. If you got at least five breweries stamped, you could bring your passport back to the library for a free limited-edition glass. The library had a lot of success in getting the participating eight breweries to promote the tour on Facebook — it was great for their businesses!


Douglas County Brewery Passport


  • The Bee Cave Public Library in Texas collaborated with local businesses to have literary-themed offerings at various establishments. Local ice cream shops, cafes, and businesses used social media to promote the campaign on behalf of the library.

So what are you going to do to Get Outside the Lines at your library? Share your ideas in the comments below and make sure to watch the full recorded webinar for more inspiration.