The Real Dogs of Instagram: Photo Collections of the American Kennel Club Library and Archives

Screenshot of American Kennel Club Library instagram post, black and white portrait photograph of seven Miniature Schnauzers sitting.
“Tauskey portrait of 1940s gaggle of Miniature Schnauzers” via AKC Library & Archives Instagram, @akclibrary

To all you canine-lovers out there, did you know there is a library dedicated to all things dogs? Situated in the heart of NYC, The American Kennel Club (AKC) Library and Archives is home to one of the largest collections devoted to dogs, and is the only national repository for items on the art of the purebred dog.

As a specialized library with a relatively specific audience, mainly those interested in dog sports, the library itself is run by a small team with limited resources. Plans for digitization and providing access to the vast quantities of information housed both on-site and off-site is a real challenge. While the team has recently gone through their first round of collections digitization, currently the only public-facing access to photographic holdings is through their Instagram account @akclibrary. Although there are plans for an online digital collection space, there are benefits to using social media platforms, like Instagram, that go beyond just sharing images. Social media for libraries can be beneficial in community-building and advocacy (both internally and outside the organization).

American Kennel Club Library & Archives Instagram account

According to a report on library technology, “sixty-seven percent of US citizens ages 12 and up use social media of some type,” and 12 percent of adults use Instagram (King, 2015). While many libraries struggle with seeing the importance of social media, the truth is that we are in digitally-connected world. Using social media to develop and maintain connections to your audience can assist in promoting and marketing for your library and expanding reach beyond traditional users.

In terms of using social media as a marketing/promotional resource, Instagram is a terrific space to broadcast organizational news and information. The AKC library can share and engage with people of common interests, spreading to a larger audience than just people interested in dog sports, but dog-lovers all over the world. Personally, I have no interest in sporting events, but as a dog-person I was captivated by the historical photographs and rich history the library shares on their feed. Through furthering their reach in socially connected spaces, the library increases the value of their collections.

Post from the AKC Library & Archives Instagram

When it comes to advocacy, organizational leaders love numbers. If you can show the higher-ups that more people are engaging with the content, you are advocating for the value of that content. This is where social media analytics can come in handy. The ability to track audience and engagement enables an organization to track their growth patterns over time. In the case of AKC Library, with thousands of followers and hundreds of likes per post, it’s clear that there is high interest in the library’s photographic holdings. Advocating for the ability to share this content more easily and effectively, may help the library obtain the resources needed to streamline the digitization process.

The shift in how people find information puts more emphasis on digital collections. In today’s world, social media platforms are tools that can help support the access and sharing of a library’s informational resources, but they do not replace the value of dedicated spaces for digital holdings.

Click here to follow AKC Library and Archives on Instagram and stay up to date on their digital collections.

By Alexandra Srp, INFO 653-02


American Kennel Club Library & Archives:

Young, S. W. H., & Rossmann, D. (2015). Building library community through social media. Information Technology and Libraries, 34(1), 20-37. King, D. L.

(2015). Managing your library’s social media channels. American Library Association.

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by Hugh McLeod

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