Tumblr is a free blogging platform.  New to blogging?  Want a quick review?  A blog is a web based diary or scrap book that you share with others.  You share what you like including text, pictures, video, sound and apps.   If you’d like a little more information on blogs, read What is a Blog or to become familiar with blogging vocabulary try this glossary of blog terminology.

Like other blog platforms, Tumblr allows you to showcase what you are doing, thinking, what you like and what you have.    Love fluffy kittens?  Tell us about their every meow and post adorable videos to back it up.  Have a hobby, tea cup collection, a passion for plants?  Tell the world all about it and find other people who feel the same.  You can build a community around your passions and interests by following, “liking” and commenting on other people’s blogs.   Just search topics that interest you:  cooking, soccer, shoes, tattoos… you’d be surprised.  I definitely was.  Click follow and you are connected.

Tumblr is a bit different from other common platforms, like WordPress, in that it is for a “microblogging” where users generally make shorter, more frequent posts and it is also described as much easier and faster to set up for beginners.

A terminally novice techy, I was able to set mine up in only two tries and one lifeline from a childhood friend.  I am certain you can do better, but no pressure.

Want to see more about Tumblr?  Try this video by planet nutshell. tumblr-in-a-nutshell


Lots of people and organizations are using Tumblr.  According to Tumblr, there are 75.8 million blogs in 12 languages.

Libraries are using Tumblr to announce special events, invite people to participate in contests (can you name the new dinosaur statues?), posting library quotes, photos and connecting readers to a broader library culture and community.  I love Forest Park’s blog tagline “Dedicated to helping you find the best books and the web, from our desks in Forest Park.”

Forest Park Reads (Chicago, Illinois )  and Liverpool library  in Central New York State are two examples of public libraries using Tumblr.

Librarians are using Tumblr to give insight into what libraries are and what we do.  See A Librarian’s Life chronicling what goes on in a college librarians world.

Our patrons/clients/users are using Tumblr to complain about common library issues like the lack of books of interest on shelves and I-returned-the-book-why-am-I-being-fined, but also happily to rejoice in and celebrate libraries in ways that surprised me.  I loved the library themed tattoos I saw.  Who knew?  Click on the Tumblr icon at the beginning of this post to see a Tumblr challenging preconceptions of what a librarian looks like.

Finally, review Tumblr’s Community Guidelines  for a sense of how Tumblr would like to be used and what is not acceptable.  This is actually a fun read.


Your first mission is to sign up for a Tumblr Blog.

  • Go to tumblr and sign up.  I include steps below if you want to preview what you’ll encounter.  
  • Click on sign up in the upper right hand corner of the screen.  You will need an email address, password and a url – aka: the name of your blog.  You will also be asked your age.
  • Tumblr will ask you to pick some things you are interested in, but no pressure here, you can just press next.  If you choose topics, Tumblr will suggest some blogs that you might want to follow.  If you want, you can give Tumblr permission to invade your privacy to see if friends on facebook or email contacts are already on Tumblr.
  • Voila, you are on your way!
  • What you are seeing is your dashboard which includes a line of icons of tools to create blog posts and you have a space below to view the blogs you are already or will soon be following.
  • Click “all done” and you are ready to create the look of your actual blog.  Tumblr will soon direct you to verify your email by clicking on a link sent to your email.  Go to your email, click on the link, enjoy the words of praise and get back to playing!
  • Select a Theme if you’d like:  find the word “themes” on the lower right hand of your home page.  Now: Pick a theme – you will see categories listed on the lower right.  Themes cost anywhere from free, my favorite, to $49.   You can also opt to stay with the default theme.
  • Go back to your dashboard and click on “select an avatar” to upload a picture or image from your computer to be the face of your blog.
  • Once you have selected a theme and avatar, click on customize in the upper right hand of the screen.  The menu on the left will allow you to give a title to your blog and add a description. Click save and then close.
  • You have created your blog.  Congratulations!

Dashboard vs. your actual blog:  Your dashboard will be what you see each time you log in to Tumblr.  You will see icons for tools to add text, photos, quotes, etc to your posts.  Click on each icon to see what it will do.  Click on your blog name, to the right of the toolbar, to see what your actual blog will look like to others.

Want to learn more about Tumblr and how to set up your blog?  Click here!


Activities to explore Tumblr.

Activity 1: Search Tumblr for blogs related to your interests and hobbies and click “follow.”  Explore what is out there and see what people are doing with Tumblr.  Are any libraries in Australia already using Tumblr?

Activity 2: Create your first post.  Use the icons to add photo or images.

Activity 3: Want to get beyond the basics and trick out your blog?  Go to how to use tumblr for information about the many tools available http://howtousetumblr.com/the-best-tumblr-music-widgets/

Activity 4:  Share your newly created blog either here or in our google docs.  We would love to see what you created!

Activity 5: Finally! To be very frank, I am lagging behind in social media in my personal life and often wonder why libraries are moving out into this arena – especially when many are dealing with reduced staffing.  Beyond the time involved in just creating a blog or Facebook page, for example, there is significant time involved in maintaining a meaningful and up to date internet presence.  This is where I fall down in my personal life – there’s just not much happening on my Facebook page and twitter account.   I am wondering “why,” by the way, in a positive, exploratory sense rather than wanting anyone to prove the value.  In “leave a reply” below, can you offer any insights or ideas from this module or your own experience?  What are libraries or our communities getting out of our creating an internet presence outside of our websites?

Creative Commons License

This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Fall of 2012.  This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was authored by Amy E. Crepeau for CityLibraries, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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