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Chesterfield library, looking to connect with younger patrons, goes viral on TikTok

It’s not often you see your local library in the digital spotlight.

But when the Chesterfield Public Library posted a video on TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, on March 28, the small rural library got its chance at Internet fame, gaining more than a million views within hours.

The viral video shows Library Assistant Lucy Applegate holding a DVD copy of the animated film “Inside Out,” and uses an audio clip from the cartoon “Owl House” to joke that while the movie came out seven years ago, some of the library’s younger patrons might consider it “ancient.”

By Friday, the video had amassed more than 3.1 million views, more than 707,000 likes and 8,233 comments.

Even before the pandemic, libraries across the nation were using the Internet to try and engage with their younger audiences. Now, many of the libraries are using social media platforms, such as TikTok, to boost their outreach efforts.

The idea for Chesterfield Public Library to have a presence on the platform wasn’t new.

“It had been on my mind for a while to start an account,” said Kathleen Packard, the library’s director. But it wasn’t until Packard attended a professional development workshop, “Leveraging Social Media for your Brand,” earlier this year at the Hudson Public Library that the idea came to life. The Chesterfield library was interested in exploring different ways it could reach younger patrons, specifically middle-schoolers to young adults.

The workshop “had a heavy emphasis on how to utilize TikTok as a platform for libraries to engage with younger audiences, which is what we were looking for,” Packard said. “So we said, ‘Why not? We’re gonna try this; we’re gonna go for it.’ ”

The library created an account on March 1 and posted its first TikTok the next day. The content began as an introduction of staff members, with footage from around the building, before expanding into following the latest trends on the platform as a way to promote events at the library. The account, @chesterfieldlibrary, had 3,560 followers as of Friday.

“While we mainly use it to promote book displays and programming we have going on at the library, we often mix in some book humor here and there,” said Applegate, 20, the library assistant who created the Owl House video.

“We’ll look at what’s trending, so the different songs or filters on TikTok, which can change pretty frequently,” said Packard, who gives ideas to Applegate before letting them have full creative freedom in the filming and editing process. “We ask ourselves, ‘How can I take that fun trend, in general, and make it library-specific? How can you make it funny and relevant?’ ”

Applegate was initially hesitant about the library creating a TikTok account.

“It felt like a big jump at first for us,” they said. “We didn’t have a large presence initially, and so we didn’t have a foundation for our image that we could build off of for social media.”

They relied initially on what other libraries were doing on TikTok, watching other videos and researching engagement strategies on various platforms.

However, having a library account on TikTok does have its perks.

“Libraries are different entities themselves on social media, so we can have a bit more freedom in the content we create unlike celebrities or influencers,” Applegate explained. “There’s a great community within TikTok of other libraries. This helps in spurring ideas for content, and we just support each other.”

One of the ideas they got was when North Riverside Public Library in Illinois posted a video, after having hid a photo of Robert Pattinson, one of the actors who starred in the movies based off the book series, behind the Twilight shelf in the library’s collection.

“I saw that video and just had to recreate it,” said Applegate, who then replied to the video on the platform with their own addition of Pattinson in the Chesterfield library. “It was so fun and felt like something our patrons would enjoy.”

Like any online community, there are those who engage consistently with the library’s content. “I’ve started to identify usernames who comment often, who like our videos a lot, and it could really mean two things: Either these people are local and are patrons who come in often, or these are people who could be hundreds of miles away and possibly might never come into our library,” Applegate said. ”Whatever it might be, these are people who are getting joy from the content I’m creating, which is really cool.”

The library has had other popular videos since then, including one promoting games set out for middle-schoolers during April vacation that now has more than 3,000 views.

“This was only supposed to be a trial, we only planned to test this out for three months,” Packard said of using TikTok as an engagement tool. “But thanks to this video and seeing the impact it’s had, we’ve decided to make TikTok a permanent tool in part of our outreach.”

The library has a dedicated iPad for content creation for its TikTok account, and other marketing software made for libraries, but Packard emphasizes that it isn’t a big monetary burden for libraries to try this type of outreach.

“As long as you have a plan, really, there’s no loss. That’s the beautiful thing about social media; you can just try things out and see what happens.”

The Keene Public Library has also experienced the power social media can have in exposing patrons to new materials, and in promoting its collections. “Recently, there was an increase in checkouts of older books [classics] thanks to a recent trend on the BookTok community,” said Jay Fee, Keene’s teen services librarian.

#BookTok, a hashtag used by creators on TikTok who feature book recommendations, reviews and memes about — you guessed it — books, helps introduce people to new recommendations.

The Keene Public Library has software that connects with its catalog when promoting certain collections on social media, enabling staff to track data on the impact of these efforts. Through the use of its YouTube account, as well as its Facebook page, the Keene library can consistently promote events and national initiatives at the library such as the National Teen Lock-in that happens each summer.

“We were able to promote collections that were available online, while also connecting with our teen audiences,” Fee said. “We’ve also been able to share another piece of ourselves, to engage with our younger patrons in fun and engaging ways.”

Social media also proved essential for many local libraries during the pandemic.

“It was a lifeline for us, in order to stay in touch with our patrons,” said Julie Rios, the technology director at Walpole Town Library. “We did story-times online for our youngest patrons, and to keep our teen patrons involved we started an online book club in which they would read two to three chapters online and the kids could interact with staff through comments.”

Like Chesterfield’s library, the Walpole library has also discovered how far its content can reach.

Recently, Rios received an email from a nine year-old girl, Ruby, who requested a specific book for online story-time. Ruby was in Washington, more than 2,948 miles away.

“Who knew that little old Walpole Town Library could reach kids all the way in Washington state?” Rios said. “The reach of social media is truly outstanding.”

The library has also been doing Facebook Lives — videos filmed and streamed live onto its Facebook page — of book reviews in its collection for just over a year now, beginning in March 2021. The videos are then saved onto the library’s Facebook page as well as its YouTube account for people to view later.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in those books being checked out that were reviewed on those ‘lives’ — in fact, those are the books that are going out the fastest for us,” Rios said.

A sense of community can be found throughout the Walpole library’s Facebook feed, with more than 30 responses to its most recent “What are you Reading Wednesday?” call out, which invites patrons to share the novels they’re reading through the comments feature on the post. Currently, the genres range from tear-jerking romances and harrowing murder mysteries to adventurous tales of fiction.

Packard noted that the building of online communities is evident even in the comments on the library’s recent viral video.

“The majority of those 8,000 comments we have on that video are positive — that in and of itself is a community.” Packard said. “Libraries exist to help connect people with information, and I’m happy we can do that with the use of things like TikTok.”

Applegate echoed these sentiments, referring to the content they create for the library.

“I’m happy that I can show that libraries aren’t just a place to be quiet and read — we’re so much more.”

Elon Musk sows doubt over his $44B Twitter takeover

Elon Musk sowed new chaos into the market over his takeover bid for Twitter Inc. Friday, first claiming his offer was “temporarily on hold” and then maintaining he is “still committed” to the deal, sending the social media giant into a tailspin.

The billionaire initially sent an early tweet saying the $44 billion deal is pending until he receives more information about the proportion of fake accounts on the social media site, which sent Twitter stock tumbling as much as 25 percent in premarket trading. A few hours later he sent another tweet saying he is “still committed” to the deal. Twitter’s shares recouped some of their losses and closed down 9.7 percent in New York.

Musk said he was waiting for details on a recent filing from Twitter that fake accounts on the social media platform contributed less than 5 percent of its users. Twitter said in its latest quarterly results “that the average of false or spam accounts during the first quarter of 2022 represented fewer than 5 percent of our monthly daily active users during the quarter.” However, this data-point has been part of Twitter’s quarterly filings for almost a decade. Twitter said it applied “significant judgment” to its latest estimate, and the true number could be higher.

Twitter Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal, in a series of tweets several hours later, said while he expected the deal to close, the company needed to be “prepared for all scenarios.”

“I won’t use the deal as an excuse to avoid making important decisions for the health of the company, nor will any leader at Twitter,” Agrawal said.

Fighting fake accounts has been a cornerstone of Musk’s bid to reform Twitter. In a statement announcing his deal to buy the company last month, he revealed he wanted to defeat spam bots, authenticate all humans, and make its algorithms open source. Musk has also said he’d like to make the platform a bastion of free speech, taking the guardrails off of content moderation.

Bots are currently allowed on Twitter, though under the company’s policy such accounts are supposed to indicate that they’re automated. The platform has even launched a label for “good” bots, such as @tinycarebot, an account that tweets self-care reminders. Spam bots, however, are not permitted, and the company has policies meant to combat them.

Doubts have grown in recent days that Musk would be able to pull off his acquisition of Twitter, and that the entrepreneur may consider dropping his bidding price for the micro-blogging site. The whole transaction has been a frenzied and untraditional affair, largely played out on Twitter. Musk went from being “just” a prolific user to revealing a more than 9 percent stake in the company and then launching an unsolicited takeover offer — without detailed financing plans — within a matter of weeks. It all came together at breakneck speed in part because Musk waived the chance to look at Twitter’s finances beyond what was publicly available.

“There will also be questions raised over whether fake accounts are the real reason behind this delaying tactic,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, “given that promoting free speech rather than focusing on wealth creation appeared to be his primary motivation for the takeover. The $44 billion price tag is huge, and it may be a strategy to row back on the amount he is prepared to pay to acquire the platform.”

The proposed takeover includes a $1 billion breakup fee for each party, which Musk will have to pay if he ends the deal or fails to deliver the acquisition funding as promised. It is unclear whether an update by Twitter on the number of fake accounts — if materially larger than 5 percent — would trigger a so-called material adverse effect clause, releasing Musk from the breakup fee.

“Musk should have slowed down for a second and not been so rash,” said Andrew Freedman, partner at the law firm Olshan Frome and Wolosky. “He should have done what every other acquirer buying a company the size of Twitter would do and that is to do due diligence. But Musk is Musk and he’s going to do whatever he wants to do.”

The spread on the deal, which offers an indication of how much Wall Street believes the takeover will be completed, swelled further Thursday to $9.11 from $8.11 in the previous session. That was the widest level since the billionaire launched his bid last month to purchase the Twitter for $54.20 — and double where it was last week when he announced a roughly $7.1 billion financing commitment.

Musk’s latest tweets landed just hours after news that Twitter was freezing hiring as part of pre-deal cost-cutting efforts. Two of Twitter’s top leaders are also departing. Kayvon Beykpour, head of consumer product, and Bruce Falck, in charge of revenue product, were both asked to leave the company by Agrawal, the two executives said in separate public posts.

The changes reflect Twitter’s current state of limbo while it awaits a new owner. Hindenburg Research LLC, an investment research firm that focuses on activist short-selling, said on Monday that it sees a “significant risk” that Musk’s proposed offer gets repriced lower.The analysts cited the ongoing meltdown in technology shares, Twitter’s own weak first-quarter results, including restating several years of user numbers, and the prospect that Musk will sell his 9 percent stake if the deal doesn’t come together.

Employees at Twitter have been on an emotional roller coaster for weeks. One employee said Friday he felt like he worked at a circus and that for the first time he was considering changing jobs.

Aside from doubts over the extent of spam bots on Twitter’s platform, the world’s richest person is still working to secure the money to actually complete the deal. Musk has been in talks with investors to raise enough equity and preferred financing to eliminate the need for any margin loan linked to his Tesla shares, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

He recently disclosed $7.1 billion in equity commitments from investors including Larry Ellison, Sequoia Capital, Qatar Holding and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, with the latter rolling his Twitter stock into the deal.

“Musk has never had the full funding — we know that from his constant attempts to get financial support — but he also held all the cards,” said Neil Campling, head of TMT research at Mirabaud Equity Research. “The Twitter board have been held hostage and only have themselves to blame for this mess. No other buyer will emerge — if Musk decides he is still interested he can name his price and it won’t be higher.”

Dartmouth Health abandons proposed GraniteOne Health deal

LEBANON — Dartmouth Health and GraniteOne Health, which includes Manchester’s Catholic Medical Center, are abandoning plans to combine forces after the state Attorney General’s Office said the collaboration as proposed would violate the New Hampshire constitution.

The N.H. Attorney General’s Office released a report Friday objecting to the proposed combination.

In a statement, Attorney General John Formella said the combination would violate a clause in the state constitution that requires “free and fair competition in the trades and industries.”

“Free, fair and robust competition is critical to providing employers and patients with options for lower cost and high quality health care services,” Formella said in a Friday news release. “Our state has experienced significant consolidation in health care over the past several years, and this transaction seeking to combine two of our top four largest systems is unacceptable without appropriate protections for consumers in place.”

Formella, the son of the late Nancy Formella, a former Dartmouth Health leader, cited concerns about the effect of the proposal on health care costs. Specifically, the report points to the likelihood that the combination would “adversely impact competition” for certain health care services in the Manchester area, in the southwest region of the state and for some services statewide.

“Without remedies in place protecting the public from harm and ensuring the combined system delivers on the promised benefits, the transaction as proposed is not something that I can approve,” he said in the release.

The collapse of the Catholic Medical proposal marks the latest setback in Dartmouth Health’s ongoing effort to find a partner in New Hampshire’s more populous southern tier.

“Although we disagree with, and are deeply disappointed by, the result of the regulatory review, we respect the process that led to this decision,” Dartmouth Health CEO Joanne Conroy said in a Friday email to employees.

However, Conroy acknowledged that combining forces with GraniteOne — which officials once described as pivotal to Dartmouth Health’s future — may not have made as much sense today as it did when the parties first began negotiations.

“During the 2-3 years of review by state and federal officials, the dynamics of the healthcare landscape in New Hampshire — and beyond — have continued to change dramatically,” Conroy wrote. “Despite the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic, Dartmouth Health and GraniteOne remained committed and focused on how we would deliver the benefits and promises of the combination for our patients and communities. But it has become clear to us that those benefits and promises that we envisioned several years ago are no longer practical and realistic in the current environment.”

Dartmouth Health, which has an annual operating budget of more than $2 billion, and GraniteOne, which has an annual operating budget of more than $600 million, first announced in January 2019 that they planned to combine forces. The organizations said at the time that they planned to build on the two health systems’ preexisting clinical collaborations in the areas of obstetrics, pre- and postnatal care, oncology, rheumatology, endocrinology, and critical care. They also said they aimed to reduce costs by integrating back-end services and data sharing, and to increase access to specialty services at smaller, more rural hospitals. The three members of GraniteOne would have had the chance to join the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Obligated Group, giving them increased access to credit.

Lauren Collins-Cline, a spokeswoman for GraniteOne, said “the parties were not able to agree on all of the terms” in an emailed statement Friday.

“We reached an impasse late yesterday afternoon and will not receive the regulatory approval we need to move forward,” she said. “This outcome is disappointing for GraniteOne Health and its members — Catholic Medical, Huggins Hospital and Monadnock Community Hospital. It’s also disappointing for the patients and communities of New Hampshire. Based on the public forums we held last fall, it was clear how much the community supports our organizations and recognized the benefits this combination would have provided.”

In addition to the 396-bed Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the Dartmouth Health system includes Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon; Cheshire Medical Center in Keene; Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor, Vt.; and New London Hospital. In addition to the 330-bed CMC, GraniteOne includes Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro and Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough.

Under the combination, each hospital would have continued to operate under their own boards of trustees, but would have been managed by a single CEO and two regional presidents. Dartmouth Health CEO Joanne Conroy would have been CEO of the new system. In addition to the three executives, seven of the new system’s board members would have been appointed by Dartmouth Health and five would come from GraniteOne.

Given Catholic Medical’s relationship to the Catholic Church, some anti-abortion activists had opposed the combination of the two health care systems. But the agreement, inked in September 2019, had gotten approval from Rev. Peter Libasci, the bishop of Manchester, and was reviewed by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. The agreement included clauses giving Catholic Medical’s leaders authority over changes to Catholic Medical’s philosophy and purposes, including its Catholic identity.

But other changes at Catholic Medical, Huggins and Monadnock, such as budgets, management of major assets, changes in health care services and the adoption of strategic plans, would have required approval by the broader system board. The broader board, in consultation with Huggins’ or Monadnock’s board chairs, also could have removed a trustee; hired, evaluated or fired a chief executive; and required hospitals to participate in systemwide initiatives. Catholic Medical would have retained its final authority to remove a trustee, or hire or fire a chief executive.

This is not the first time Dartmouth Health has sought a partner in the south. It was in talks to create a formal affiliation with the Manchester-based Elliot Health System, but ended them in 2017. The following year, Elliot combined with Nashua-based Southern New Hampshire Health to create SolutionHealth, combining the 296-bed Elliot Hospital with the 188-bed Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.

In 2010, while Nancy Formella was one of Dartmouth Health’s leaders, the Attorney General’s Office rejected an effort by Dartmouth-Hitchcock to acquire Catholic Medical Center.