Use of Memes in Libraries

While browsing through some of the posts from Shareable Clique (Thanks Meghan for sharing that great resource with the class!) I noticed that some of the most successful library posts incorporated the use of memes. These anecdotal, culturally driven photos and videos provide a handy way to tap into popular culture and get our messages across. Personally, I love a good meme.


Memes are popular on social sites like 9gag, Reddit, and 4chan. Students are particularly responsive communication via meme. This knowledge has been used by Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, who successfully embraced the use of memes as an information dissemination tool. For more info on this study click here.

We all know that feeling…

But. With great power comes great responsibility; memes should be used carefully. Memes are ephemeral, moving in and out of cultural consciousness faster than a Kardashian scandal. Using a meme once it has started to fade in popularity is social media suicide. It marks the user as out of touch, trying to come in too late in the game. For example, Albertsons Library used the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme in a promotion in early 2013. Because the meme had already been around for a while, the promotion was retired after only one month. The meme has since entered academia, becoming a subject for University of Saskatchewan study so, while it may generate interest from scholars, your general audience would probably find it irrelevant. (Link to the USask study here)

Bottom line, memes have to be relatable to your target audience in order to gain momentum. And, just in case you’re not sure, there are useful sites for evaluating the potential effectiveness of your meme. Take this Albertsons Library Y U No Guy example.


What do we think? Memes in libraries? Good or bad?

Here are some interesting links:

42 Library Related Memes

What is a Meme!?

Published by

Megan Kennedy

MLIS Graduate Student.

4 thoughts on “Use of Memes in Libraries”

  1. I also love a good meme! They mix humour and pop culture so effectively. I think libraries should embrace the use of memes. They’re attention grabbing. However, as you say, libraries need to be careful not to fall behind the times. If memes were to be included in a library’s social media policy, a key point would have to be currency.

  2. So interesting! I think that, as you illustrate, memes can walk a fine line between being funny and somewhat mean-spirited (like the final example). I think that memes have to be posted very selectively, but they can be useful for making a funny point about library life, especially the positive ones that celebrate the joys and advantages of library resources! 🙂

  3. I’m a full supporter of memes in libraries. Another point to add in relation to out-of-date memes is misused memes. The Internet is a vicious place, and if the top and bottom heading don’t match the memes intended paradigm, it could be another form of social media suicide.

  4. I think the use of memes can be funny, if used carefully. However, I remember a comment Luanne made in one of our core classes about how sometimes librarians online make fun of patrons through memes or Twitter/Tumblr accounts (librarianproblems). I agreed with her. We should be careful not to direct any mean-ness towards even the most clueless of patrons because it discourages the general public from using libraries.

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