Dartmouth Library’s witty Instagram posts aim to connect ‘college behemoths’ to one of the busiest spaces on campus.
At first glance, the Dartmouth Library Instagram account could be mistaken for an unofficial student-run page. As you browse through the articles, photos of ‘Lab-rarian’ Ivy – the library’s unofficial mascot – complement helpful infographics of library resources and images of students at work, captioned with specially tailored derivations. to the families of the popular student expression “academic weapons.” Favorite derivations include the academic ‘harmonizing yodelers’ and the ‘unique survivors of the lost whalers’.
Content is not just digital; offline social media projects, such as the recent sticker scavenger hunt, have helped students discover new areas of a long cherished space on campus. It looks like after the pandemic @dartmouthlibrary is looking to revitalize what Baker-Berry means for Dartmouth, both online and in person – and the team behind the account seems to be having fun doing it.
Library communications manager Tom Remp noted that the purpose of the posts is to combine humor with useful information. Entering his post three months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Remp led the transformation of @dartmouthlibrary. Prior to assuming the role of communications manager for the library, Remp was social media manager for the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, Vermont.
“[My former position] taught me how to put messages in place that I really believe in and the ability to get across important things without taking them too seriously, ”said Remp.
However, his role at Dartmouth began with an unexpected stumbling block – COVID-19 – brought an end to normal operations, which sped up the process of onboarding to his post. Despite these obstacles, Remp worked alongside library leaders to create messages that could help quarantined students.
“Ultimately it was about supporting the students – both academically, which for the library is kind of a no-brainer, and then also during COVID with emotion and humor,” Remp said.
Associate Librarian for Digital Strategies Daniel Chamberlain added that because students could not physically visit the library during the pandemic, library management focused on how to use social media to “create connections and building a community ”.
This included projects such as the Dartmouth Alumni Photo Challenge, which involved reaching out to alumni and sharing photos from their time in Dartmouth with them. Another popular effort was the Sticker Competition, where Dartmouth students were asked to design a sticker surrounding the prompt, “What does Dartmouth Library mean to you?” Stickers – designed by the two competition winners, digital project specialist Betty Kim ’20 and student Ivana Devic ’22 – were sent to students at their homes around the world.
The competition featured a collaboration with Portland artist and muralist Davey Barnwell ’13, who designed 25 stickers depicting some of Dartmouth Library’s most iconic spaces.
The 25 designs are part of the Dartmouth Sticker Scavenger Hunt, where students are given a puzzle if they find all 25 stickers. One winner, Kevin Moran ’25, said he wasn’t even aware of the incentive, but decided to take part in the challenge because “It just seemed like something cool and interesting to do.”
“Thanks to the stickers, I was able to explore the library,” Moran said. “I didn’t know how to access the batteries until the treasure hunt. I didn’t even know where the Stacks were – I thought the Stacks were just regular floors, but I didn’t know there was a whole other place.
Another winner, Matt Jachim-Gallagher ’25, also found the scavenger hunt to be an entertaining way to explore the library.
“It’s a great incentive to get people to explore the library,” Jachim-Gallagher said. “There was a sticker in Tuck, and I never would have known there was a library in Tuck unless I was looking for that sticker. It’s just a great way to get people to find new resources and visit different places in the library.
Remp and library staff took note of the foot traffic, pointing out that places in the library that were once rarely visited have now been scoured for stickers.
“I’ll be heading back to a space in two days and all the stickers will be gone,” Remp said. “We had so many people who picked them all up and got a puzzle. I thought it would take people a lot longer, but it’s no good to underestimate mission students.
In addition to helping students find new locations within the library, these contests keep students interested in the library and the resources it has to offer. Jachim-Gallagher and Moran believe the library’s Instagram page has helped engage and educate the Dartmouth community throughout the pandemic and continues to do so today.
“The content can be outdated at times,” admitted Moran. “But I think that’s what makes him really good. [The page] is very active in the community, and they actually talk to people and respond to their dms.
“I have enabled my post notifications,” Jachim-Gallagher said. “[The content] is very intriguing and attracts people.
Jachim-Gallagher was particularly intrigued by the photos of students on the account.
“I also thought that the photo shoots were organized at the beginning, but then I came [to the library] and I found out how cold it was – a guy is just going to walk up and take a picture of you and then you’ll see it on the page, ”Jachim-Gallagher said. “It makes the page a lot warmer. ”
“Some guy” is Alex Fick ’25, a student photographer who joined the social media team after Remp saw his photography account on Instagram over the summer and contacted him.
“I help create and get content, then [Remp] is more on the operational side, doing captions and taking other types of photos, ”Fick said. “It’s definitely an outlet for engaging other people; when I take pictures of people, they get really excited to be introduced.
Fick’s work with Remp has helped him better understand content creators.
“Tom is always looking at the post’s analytics and what is working well, what people are engaging with more than other things,” Fick said. “He tries to maximize engagement, because that’s how you maximize the ability to educate people about the resources the library has.”
Ultimately, that’s @dartmouthlibrary’s main goal: to maximize resources.
“The feeling is always like ‘I’d like to know X sooner’,” Chamberlain said. “Sometimes that means seriously thinking about the role of social media in the lives of students, and sometimes it’s about finding the right language to use to communicate what you do. The posts can be pictures of Ivy or funny phrases and names, but it always points to some kind of resource in the library that people would have liked to know about sooner.