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Pinterest is a digital-visual pinboard website
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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, July 2017


See also Archives 2.0 | Facebook | Glogster | Social media landscape | Social media aggregators | Social tagging | Twitter | Web 2.0 | Zotero

"...Pinterest is not new to the health care field; Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospital recently did a live “tweetcast” of a brain surgery and updated the hospital's Pinterest page with images and video of the surgery as it occurred..." — Stellrecht, 2012

Pinterest is a digital pinboard that helps you to organize visual web content that you have found and want to co-locate in some way. The site is a type of social photo-sharing site allows users to "pin" images onto boards that include descriptions of each up to 500 characters (Twitter x 3). The pinboard tool focuses on audiovisual materials rather than articles, text-based information, music or podcasts. Pinterest's "Pin It" button allows users to tag visual materials from the web with various tags and categories such as science, technology, architecture, crafts and so on. Pinterest is the virtual equivalent of folding over or dog-earing a page in books (or magazines) but makes a web page easy to organize and retrieve. Pinterest has secret boards so users can keep their collections completely private. Pinterest is a clone of Pinspire and is a leading source of referral traffic on the web.

Created in 2009 by Ben Silbermann, Pinterest was launched by invitation only. By 2011, it had attracted a lot of attention and, by 2012, was the third most popular social networking service on the web. Pinterest now has ~20+ million unique visitors a month. According to statistics, Pinterest is used by 12% of the Internet population with 20% of women and 5% of men saying that they use it. Some people have said the gender divide in the use of Pinterest is narrowing. However, Pinterest has the highest percentage of women users of any current social network and drives higher referral traffic than YouTube, Tumblr and LinkedIn combined. The University at Buffalo wrote about their use of Pinterest to display content of their wiki of consumer health resources for senior citizens. Pinreach, an analytics tool, allows you to study your influence on Pinterest without the value estimation you find in Pinpuff.


  • Pinterest is easy to use, navigate and search; easy to maintain; registration is required for full functionality
  • Pinterest allows you to curate content for and communicate with visual learners; a complementary medium not a replacement for websites
  • Very popular in health: the American Heart Association, AARP have ~1,500 followers
  • Pinterest has a notification system which allows copyright holders to request content be removed
  • The iPhone app differs from other sites that support ways to find content online other than simply surfing the web
  • Flipboard, the social magazine, is visual but highly interactive, and uses iPad's supported gestures; concentrates on magazine-like content from the Web, folding text into its layout.
  • StumbleUpon is similar to Pinterest, listing categories of interest to explore, but you won't find its roulette wheel in Pinterest
  • Springpad, another service where you save images and web clips to a virtual pasteboard, is close to Pinterest functionally but less fun to use

Recent research

This article is an introduction to Pinterest, a relative newcomer in the social photo-sharing "pinboard" space which was launched in 2010. Amazingly, Pinterest already has ~12 million users and seems to appeal to librarians and educators in assembling images and ideas on a pinboard. After an introduction, the article explains how the Library at the University of Regina has been using Pinterest to engage and interact with students. The authors (educators and a librarian) talk about the challenges in creating a Pinterest account for outreach: they start with copyright and questions about what content can be added; launch of the account and adjustment of how it was used, including best practices and their research; ending with potential uses for teaching by both librarians and faculty. Judging from the lack of research in the area, the UofRegina is a very early adopter of Pinterest. The authors are helpful in putting Pinterest into some context for librarians and educators.

As a Discovery Tool


Think about Pinterest as a content discovery/sharing tool and its additional collaborative features. Here are some other benefits:

  • All kinds of libraries use Pinterest to market their resources
  • It encourages collaboration and curation of images, information, photos, etc.
  • You can curate library resources through visual subject guides ie., online "window shopping" experience
  • Target library resources for specific groups
  • Feature electronic and print collections
  • Connect with researchers and groups
  • Use it as a teaching poster board
  • Highlight your library with staff pins
  • Pin diagrams to FAQs
  • Curate instructional resources with teaching pin boards.
  • Teach proper citation and attribution skills
  • Pinning book covers
  • Displaying archives
  • Promoting library activities

Use of Pinterest - Health Care Examples

Use of Pinterest - Library Examples

See also Pinterest - Evolution of Television


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