Pinterest ( the latest social media tool to emerge from the fringes to the spotlight. It’s something of a social media bulletin board for interesting images. Once you set up an account (invitation only, but you can request an invitation — mine came within hours), you are given a bookmarklet tied to your account so that can start pinning images you find on the web.

When you’re on a page that has an image you want to “pin,” you click the bookmarklet. Pinterest shows you thumbnails of all the images on that particular page. You select the thumbnail image you want and the board you want to add it to (you can create as many boards as you like).

Uses of Pinterest for Libraries

Pinterest has some interesting uses for libraries:

Copyright Questions

One of the interesting challenges faced by Pinterest is that of copyright. Pinterest works by copying a thumbnail image of whatever it is that you pin. When you pin an image, the original is linked from the thumbnail. While probably not, strictly speaking, allowed by copyright law, I suspect Pinterest is operating under the theory that if Google can cache a thumbnail of an image (or even of an entire web page) for its search tools, then they can do the same.

Complications arise, though, when one Pinterest use copies an image from another. You can "repin" another user’s image to one of your own boards. At that point, you’ve created another copy of the image on your board that links to the "original" — that is, the thumbnail on someone else’s board — and not to the original artist’s. There’s been quite a kerfuffle about this of late.

There’s a very nice summary of the issues around "pinning" things at the University of Minnesota’s Copyright Librarian blog (and a follow-up post) that I encourage you to read. It summarizes the issues far better than I can.

Pinterest via RSS

Pinterest doesn’t document its RSS feeds well, but I stumbled across some instructions for how they can be made.

  1. To get an RSS feed for all of a particular user’s boards, add “feed.rss” to the end of the user’s Pinterest page. So, for example, for RSS feed for the Darien Public Libraries Pinterest account is
  2. To get an RSS feed for a specific board, remove the end “/” from the board’s URL and then add “.rss”. So the Darien Library’s Best Books for Babies and Toddlers board has the feed

Happy syndicating! (And don’t ask about the potential for copyright issues when we you re-publish an RSS feed of a Pinterest board that itself has copyrighted but unlicensed images on it.)