Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

How to Tumblr, part 1

Get ready to jump in with my go-to method for learning something new – start doing it. Okay, yes, usually I read a few articles and ask some of my younger friends about their experience with whatever the new thing is. After that, though, when a new social media platform comes on the horizon, it’s best to just jump in with both feet.  (I promise this won’t hurt.)

So, first things first, go to https://www.tumblr.com/ , fill out your email, choose a password, enter a username, and click on the BIG button at the bottom that reads ‘Sign up and start posting.’ Before you go, you may want to brainstorm a few possible user names, the one you usually use is probably already taken. Yes, seriously. Go ahead, I’ll wait here for you.

Okay, so you’re back. Did it ask you your age? Good. You have to be 13 years old to use Tumblr. In fact, here is a screenshot from their terms of service that I absolutely love (because, be honest, it’s not like you really read them before you agreed to them.)

Unless you’ve skipped ahead (in which case, go for it – you don’t need me!) you are on a page asking you to ‘Find Blogs. Follow five.’  Oh, yes, in case you didn’t know, Tumblr is a blogging platform. You don’t actually have to do this, but now would be a good time to search for people or organizations you’d like to follow. You can follow us! Just type in teenlibrariantoolbox – it should be the only search result. ATTENTION KAREN: now is when you can search for Doctor Who!

Here are some other library or YA related Tumblrs you may want to follow:

  • thelifeguardlibrarian – who compiles a list of Tumblarians (more on that later)
  • Libraryjournal
  • Schoollibraryjournal
  • Himissjulie
  • Fancylibrarian
  • Yaflash
  • Bookshelfporn
  • Bookavore

Now you may want to look for some of your favorite authors. Just go ahead and search. A random sampling of some of the Tumblr authors I follow includes Maureen Johnson, Sarah Reese Brennan, Ally Carter (theallycarter), Laurie Halse Anderson, Rachel Hawkins (therealladyhawkins), and John Green (fishingboatproceeds). As you can see, some of them have had to pick rather odd names. Just search for your favorites. You may also want to search for other people you follow on other platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.) Also, sometimes the web site freezes at this point. No worries, just close it and open again.
At this point you will want to log in to your email and verify your Tumblr account. They have sent you an email, just follow the directions. It should take you back to Tumblr. You’ll be at your dashboard. Let me stop here and explain a little more of what Tumblr is about.

Yes, Tumblr is a blogging platform, but it is also an interactive social media web site. When you log in, you aren’t shown your blog you are shown your dashboard, which is an aggregate of all the Tumblrs you follow, with entries in reverse chronological order. That is, the most recent Tumblr entry by one of the Tumblrs you follow will show up at the top of your dashboard. You can scroll down to the last one you recognize and start from there – although I wouldn’t advise it. You see, once you really get going on Tumblr you’ll realize that a lot of what is going on is people reblogging other people’s content and either adding to it or commenting on it. So something you visually recognize might be a reblog of something else. This is especially true if you follow users who follow each other. This is where the interaction happens. In my experience, it’s best to just read from the top down. (Your mileage may vary.)

So, for the next couple of days, explore on your own. See if you can find Tumblrs you’d like to follow. Go to The Lifeguard Librarian’s Tumblr page here http://thelifeguardlibrarian.tumblr.com/tumblariansand follow some interesting looking libraries or librarians. Maybe even click the heart symbol on the bottom of an entry you particularly like. I’ll be back in a couple of days with part 2 of How to Tumblr, and we will discuss reblogging, creating your own blog entries, and customizing your Tumblr. Until then, best of luck!


  1. Oh, how I would love to use Tumblr… sadly, it's the only social media that my library blocks… 🙁 Too much “adult” content.

  2. Are you in a school? My workplace blocks Tumblr and Facebook, but not Twitter or YouTube, but I'm in a school. I wonder how many non-school libraries have Tumblr blocked…

  3. I'm in a public library. We have full access to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (not that anyone uses it), YouTube, Blogger, WordPress, etc, etc, etc. but not Tumblr… From what I can gather, part of the problem is that our internet filter has flagged it.

  4. Katy Jane Miller says

    I asked my librarian to take off the blocks and she did. I advocated that that that was where the teens were and we needed to reach them.

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