https://librariestaskforce.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/07/a-shared-sense-of-place-and-mutual-interests-islington50s/

A shared sense of place and mutual interests: #Islington50s

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[Editors note: I wrote this post following a chance sighting of a tweet with an intriguing hashtag…. It complements our Outcomes post this week by illustrating how libraries can provide a sense of place, how local history collections are a rich source of material, and how social media can bring different parts of a community together]

I noticed the #islington50s Twitter campaign quite by chance, and asked the team behind it to tell us more. Their response which follows shows how something that started in a relatively small way can capture people’s attention and develop into something much bigger. Thanks to Tony Brown for sharing details about the campaign and sending us many of the images used.

Aims of the campaign

“We have been using the campaign to draw awareness of the range of offers available from Islington Libraries. #islington50s starts with an image of somewhere in the borough in the 1950s. It’s then followed by a book recommendation, music album recommendation and then a film recommendation all from the 1950s. Finally we finish off with another local image from the ‘50s. The book, music and film recommendations were available from two libraries alongside a booklist. The images are all available from our Local History centre. We started off #islington50s on 1 July and there were 5 tweets every day using this hashtag for the month.

The first tweet in the series [nb an early advert, the campaign started 1 July]
The first tweet in the series
Books included: Gerald Durrell’s My Family and other Animals, Elizabeth David’s Book of Mediterranean Food, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation - the first in the famous sci-fi series - and Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye.

Music came from the likes of Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Frank Sinatra and Elvis.

And popular films included: Ben-Hur, From Here to Eternity, Lavender Hill Mob and On the Waterfront.

All were interspersed with photos of Islington discovered in the local history collection: from noteworthy events such as street parties to celebrate the coronation, to parties in the open air which illustrate the fashions of the era.

Coronation street party. Image credit: Islington local history collection
Coronation street party. Image credit: Islington local history collection
Openair performance. Image credit: Islington local history collection
Openair performance. Image credit: Islington local history collection

Success of #Islington50s

Total reach on Twitter to date stands at 2.3 million. Materials publicised or mentioned via the promotions were available in Islington libraries but were exhausted within days, and the Local History centre has seen a spike in enquiries. It also led to some residents sharing their 1950s images of the borough including one of the borough’s significant churches. We also gained around 100 additional followers on Twitter. Councillors became involved retweeting and favouriting. Local film clubs, theatres, pubs, architects and creative industries followed us as a result. 91.3% were all positive messages.

Return Tweets included comments like “fantastic photo”, “ best music album ever”, “ we’ve just read this book at our book club”, “how long are you running this campaign?”

Social media marks a real shift in the way we reach out to our communities compared to the days when we drove this truck around!

1950s library advertising. Image credit: Islington local history collection
1950s library advertising. Image credit: Islington local history collection

What next?

It was such a success that we are continuing it. During August we ran #islington60s and will be doing #islington70s in September. After 18 days, our total reach for the #islington60s campaign stood at 1.9 million!”

I for one hope they continue the campaign right up to the present day, to illustrate how Islington and its libraries have evolved. From scenes like these below to the modern colourful spaces members enjoy now.

In the children’s library. Image credit: Islington local history collection
In the children’s library. Image credit: Islington local history collection
Story time. Image credit: Islington local history collection
Story time. Image credit: Islington local history collection

To follow this campaign, search for one of the hashtags: #Islington50s, #Islington60s, or #Islington70s or follow @Islingtonlibs on twitter.

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Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DCMS or the Libraries Taskforce

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