A hashtag can help you create a community within and around your school library, as well as help you widen your reach beyond the school.
It was once known as the pound sign, but in the Digital Age # has been rebranded as the universal symbol known as the hashtag. Use of the hashtag dates back to 1988 and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) where it was used to categorize items and content into groups. Although just one simple character, the hashtag has proven to be one of the most powerful digital tools out there and is recognized globally. That’s why you should create a hashtag for your school library -- as a way to communicate with your community and extend your reach beyond your school.
Social media offers almost limitless opportunities to connect with people all around the world. But how do we know where to go to find people with similar goals and interests? The hashtag has been adopted by the social networks Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and more. It enables groups of people who use these platforms to find like-minded people. Hashtags have become ubiquitous, and we now see them everywhere -- on screens, in businesses, and even in our schools.
The hashtag and other tools have allowed even the most connected schools to break out of their digital silos and tell their stories to audiences beyond just those who follow them on a specific social media platform. For example, two school hashtags that I follow are #leydenpride (the hashtag for Leyden High School District 212 in Illinois) and #engage109 (the hashtag for Deerfield Public School District 109, also in Illinois). It was because of their hashtags that I learned of the amazing, innovative things taking place in these two districts, and so it was from them that I learned the power of the hashtag as well. Now I follow both hashtags regularly even though I am not part of either school community.
Why Have a Hashtag?
As a thought partner for the Future Ready Librarians initiative, I know firsthand how important leading and learning with social media are for a modern-day librarian. As more and more libraries move into the Digital Age, many are turning to social media as a way to create a positive brand presence and to promote their library programs and resources. In addition to having a presence on social media platforms, there is value in creating a hashtag for your school’s library, including allowing you to expand your library’s reach. School librarians are well positioned to lead the charge of these digital efforts.
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