Memes and Gifs and Fair Use, Oh My!

General Interest

By: Naomi Bates

Warning: these are public sites, which may contain crude humor. Ignore those and continue to create.  Just wanted to give a heads up before you go there… (why do people have to go and mess up a good thing?!?)

The way we share information is continuously changing. Think about how

Public Libraries Online: Ten Public Library Conundrums

information was exchanged ten years ago….emails, online searches, Youtube. These are all still relevant sources but the way we receive information has changed, and it’s all done within the parameters of fair use by using small clips or images and transforming them into a completely new product.

As librarians, we need to take a queue from social culture and use it to advance our profession by looking at what attracts people in today’s world and creating that attraction focusing on libraries.

It’s not only about physical space either.  It has to come from the virtual world too. In fact, studies show how often people use social media and are online (from the Brandwatch Blog):

96 Amazing Social Media Statistics and Facts for 2016:

Case in point, the site Buzzfeed. This site bases itself on contagious media and one of the most used forms  on Buzzfeed are lists that target specific audiences. Here are a few that are for librarians:

30 Things Librarians Love:

Seven Coolest Little Free Libraries

Following this popular form, you can create lists about all types of library-related things, including advocacy and post them on social media, or even your website.  Most people today like bite-sized chunks of interesting information, which is what makes lists so popular (plus it’s not a 5 page manifesto…can we say amen to that!)

Memes are another way teens and adults share information on social media, most often in a humorous way. Memes (pronounced “meems”) are images that can tell so many different stories based on it, and you are the one that has to create the story. Some popular meme generators include:

Queens Library
Queens Library

This also goes for the rising popularity of using animated gifs to help make websites, social media, lists and everything else much more eye-catching. You don’t need to write anything as much as match what you’re writing to the action done in the gif. Sites include:

Now, take some of these elements and use them independently or mash them up using online sites like Haikudeck or Projeqt.

Here are some examples of memes I mostly captioned and used for library orientation (because who likes to listen to a 50 minute lecture about library protocols?) I also created already-made memes to use for new teacher  orientation:

Here’s a mashup of animated gifs, a Buzzfeed type list, and a blog advocating librarians BEYOND the stereotype: 

So use what the internet offers in the form of images and clips and begin creating amazing presentations and lists to let people know about your library, librarians, your book collection and so much more!


Naomi Bates is a teacher librarian at Northwest High School in Justin Texas.  She has worked with students K-12 in both small and large school districts in Texas.  Currently, she is serving as a school library representative-at-large for the Texas Library Association.  She can be reached via Twitter @yabooksandmore or email at

Feature Image is found at Facebook: Libraries and Social Media group and credit goes to Ogilvy, which sent graphic notetakers to SxSW Interactive for about 3 years. More of these sketchnotes are available at

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