Milwaukee Public Library Grew a Worldwide Online Community by Highlighting the Importance of Public Libraries

The Power of Social Media

Due to social media’s rise, most people aim to go viral, which isn’t as easy as people think. Some people can post for years before they get their first viral post, while others have cracked the code and are constantly going viral. The Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) is one of those accounts.

MPL has almost 200,000 followers on its Instagram account and the followers keep coming each day. The corky and goofy-styled videos have caught the attention of viewers not just locally but globally. The posts are so intriguing that people want to visit Milwaukee to see the Downtown Central Library.

MPL staff Fawn Siemsen-Fuchs and Evan Syzmkowski are a part of the great content we all see, along with the help of many other MPL staff and local volunteers.

In 2021, Siemsen-Fuchs said the library was doing commercial-type videos for social media. It wasn’t until March of 2022 that the MPL staff started doing silly videos, which is when Syzmkowski joined the team as one of the main actors in the MPL skits. By June 2022, MPL videos started going viral. This then inspired the team to make a TikTok.

“I think the library is very adaptive. I think social media is a reflection of that,” said Siemsen-Fuchs.

The idea to create these social media videos came from the MPL staff thinking of ways to connect with youth to ensure that they not only have a library card but are also utilizing it.

The Making of an MPL Social Media Post

It takes a collective effort to bring MPL’s social media skits to life. It usually starts with Siemsen-Fuchs and Syzmkowski either seeing a viral post that they want to make library-related or they come up with original ideas. Next is scouting MPL staff that would best fit the skit roles.

Fawn Siemsen-Fuchs and Evan Syzmkowski.
Fawn Siemsen-Fuchs and Evan Syzmkowski. (Picture provided by Milwaukee Public Library)

“We have a lot of great actors here,” said Syzmkowski.

Some videos may take only an hour to plan, shoot, and edit while others need more time to execute. Along with finding actors, they have to source costumes depending on the shoot. Luckily, Siemsen-Fuchs usually has a costume or two on hand.

With the growing audience, MPL leadership is beginning to see the value of the skits and has invested a small budget into production, which Siemsen-Fuchs and Syzmkowski appreciate. They also receive props and other items from community members.

“It’s more than I expected. I was hoping we’d reach local people but we’ve been really reaching national and international people,” said Siemsen-Fuchs.

Although the videos are fun, the bigger picture of it all is exposing the community to the wonders of public libraries.

“Promoting all of the good things we do is one of the most important things we do,” said Syzmkowski. They added that the MPL staff is continuing to find the best ways to meet their patrons where they are in this modern world.

Library Resources Outside of Books

Books are what most people know public libraries for but Siemsen-Fuchs and Syzmkowski are using social media to show libraries are much more than that.

With an MPL library card, patrons can receive many free resources such as hiking backpacks, hotspots for wifi, and free admission to local museums like the Milwaukee Art Museum.

“There’s something for everyone,” said Siemsen-Fuchs.

Explore

To find out all that Milwaukee Public Libraries have to offer, click here.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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