The Milwaukee Public Library is famous on TikTok. Here’s what you need to know.

Danny Torrance on his tricycle and encounters the ghosts of the Grady Twins. A bucket of blood spilled on prom queen Carrie White. Pennywise holding red balloons.

The Milwaukee Public Library and Downtown Milwaukee have collaborated to recreate these and other iconic moments from Stephen King classics for a TikTok video just in time for the Halloween season.

The library’s post highlighted the recent digitization of audio from a 1980 King TV interview which also featured a local psychiatrist and librarian.

“It was an opportunity to show some really fun things about downtown and about the central library, but also to promote a resource that we have,” said Eileen Force Cahill, director of community relations and engagement. from MPL.

It’s just one of many TikToks in the library that have been visited since the account launched about three and a half months ago.

The account has garnered over 36,200 followers and 1 million likes.

One of those followers? Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon. And just like Witherspoon, many library followers come from out of state, according to Force Cahill.

His TikToks are just plain good.

Force Cahill said his team sees TikTok as a way for the library to connect with younger generations.

“It’s been a really fun way for us to raise awareness of the library as a place that isn’t just a dusty room where a group of ladies with buns and glasses will shut you up,” he said. she declared. “Not only do we have all these modern conveniences, but we can also hang out and connect with guests of all ages.”

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How the library’s TikTok was born

During the COVID-19 pandemic, MPL has found social media to be the most effective way to communicate with its customers. For years, the library has Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“We’ve really stepped up, just to make the content more dynamic and gain new subscribers,” Force Cahill said.

There was interest among staff to set up a TikTok account, she said. Before launching on a new platform, they dabbled in short-form video via Instagram Reels.

“They really took off,” said Force Cahill. “We started getting more subscribers, we had higher engagement with customers, some of the articles we featured had more traffic, we had an increase in database usage.”

Over the summer, the library created its TikTok account.

“All of the work we do in all of our marketing is to create connections for customers to use our services and our materials, to use our staff and our online resources – not just the books,” Force Cahill said. “We thought TikTok might be a fun way to do it.”

A system-wide effort

Members of the library’s social media team are leading the TikTok effort by closely following trends, keeping tabs on what’s happening at the library and having a running list of video ideas, Force said. Cahill.

And staff from across the library system contribute ideas, perform in videos and provide props, she said. MPL has 14 locations, according to its website.

“Apart from our communications and marketing team — and there are four of us — most of the people who contribute to our social media have other full-time jobs at the library,” Force Cahill said. “It’s also a great way for people to do something they love and show off their own creativity in ways they couldn’t otherwise given the work they do.”

Over 70 videos, from an oversized Shrek to sensitive topics

The library has released over 70 TikToks to date. Often staff take a viral TikTok trend and make it their own by connecting it to information about the library and what it has to offer.

Remember that TikTok trend where people dressed up in black suits to see “Minions: The Rise of Gru” in theaters?

The library has created a TikTok showcasing its Minions-related materials. Yes, costumes and bananas were involved.

Another trend — which the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also took part in — was to use a Shrek filter that made it look like he was appearing behind whatever you pointed your phone at.

The library brought out the beloved green ogre from behind the central library, then took a stack of Shrek DVDs from inside.

Some of the library’s most elaborate videos took weeks of planning, were filmed in days, covered different locations and included multiple staff members, Force Cahill said.

Others were filmed by a staff member at her desk with a green screen, she said.

Sometimes the library tackles more serious matters.

One of Force Cahill’s personal favorites features the text “POV: You ask a librarian for a book on a sensitive subject” on a librarian behind an “Ask” desk.

She articulates “How can I help you?” then directs the camera to books on topics ranging from grief and addiction to divorce and gender identity.

One TikTok user commented, “Public libraries were my safe place growing up in Milwaukee. Thanks for being there for me!”

Another commenter said: “It brought me to tears thinking of my little rural town librarian who handed me books about being gay after riding a bike there when I was 13 years. Thank you.”

“We’ve had a lot of feedback from people,” Force Cahill said. “You can see in the comments how much it meant to them.”

“Sometimes librarians can change the course of a person’s life just by connecting them to a resource they might not otherwise have,” she said.

For Banned Books Week – “the annual celebration of the freedom to read” – the library and the Brewcity Bruisers have teamed up for a video.

Members of the roller derby group skated throughout the space, protecting – and highlighting – banned selections including “And Tango Makes Three”, “The Hate U Give” and “All American Boys”. The introductory text of the video reads: “Keep your bans off our books. »

Force Cahill said she wanted to maintain the energy of the account, continue to create engaging content, and keep people, especially younger age groups, engaged with the organization.

“At the end of the day, we’re really proud,” she said. “We’re excited to be able to connect with customers in new ways and remind them of all the resources you can only get at your public library for free and for everyone.”

To view the library’s TikTok, visit tiktok.com/@milwaukeepubliclibrary. And for more information about the library and its resources, visit mpl.org.

Contact Hannah Kirby at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @HannahHopeKirby.

Luz W. German