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How to: TikTok

Category: Blog, Branches and Groups, SLG Scotland

Welcome to the latest in our How To series, where CILIPS SLG highlights useful digital tools to our members. Please email us at  or tweet @SLGScotland for any additional support, or to suggest a tool for us to feature.

This time we’ve invited Shona Page, Librarian at Forfar Academy, to share how she uses TikTok.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is an app that allows its users to create and upload short videos. BookTok is a strand, or “side” within TikTok where videos about books and reading are shared.

How is it useful?

I’ve used TikTok in two main ways – to inform my CLPL and also as a video editor to create my own content.

As my school does not have an official TikTok presence, I use my personal account which is set as private. An official account would allow a lot more scope for content (for example, mine doesn’t feature pupils), and would allow you to reach pupils direct on the platform that they are using. Instead, I download content to share on platforms which we do use, such as Teams and Twitter. This is easy to do.

Signing up for an account is easy once you have downloaded the app. Content that TikTok thinks you will find interesting appears on your ‘For You’ page (FYP). You can scroll through this to see different videos. Be aware that you can lose substantial amounts of time to this if you are not careful!

To find BookTok, use the search facility. Good hashtags are: #booktok, #bookrecs and #yabooks. There is also a library side to Tiktok which you can find using #librarytiktok and #librariansoftiktok.

CLPL: Book Knowledge

I’ve found that watching BookTok has been an effective way to raise my own knowledge of what’s popular reading among young people. We created a ‘TikTok made me read it’ display to highlight to pupils that we do indeed have these books on our shelves. It was a good way to start conversations around pupils’ reading – and gave me a lot of recommendations for my own tbr! When recommending books to pupils the familiarity of these titles can also make them a good starting point.

One thing to be aware of is that some of the titles that feature heavily (and which have been requested here) are published for adults.

Video Editing

TikTok videos are very short. They range from 15 seconds to 3 minutes.

Creating a video is easy. Press the + button to begin. The best tip I was given is to use the timer button to set a recording limit for each section of the video – just drag the slider to the number of seconds you’d like it to be. Press the timer again after recording each section to set the time limit for the next segment. If you like a sound that you’ve heard on another video and would like to use it, press on the spinning disc at the bottom of the screen. It’ll take you to all the videos that use the same sound, but also give you a button to create your own using that sound. Or save it to your favourites to use it later.

The advantage I’ve found of using it as a video editor is that you can tap in to the trending sounds that your pupils (and, no doubt, yourself) will be familiar with. You don’t have to dance! TikTok videos do not have to be perfect, and if you’ve seen something that you like, it’s perfectly OK to recreate it yourself, however much your librarian senses are screaming that it’s plagiarism.

I’ve used it to create an introduction to myself as part of our P7 transition process. I asked pupils to complete a quick survey about their reading interests, and added a ‘this or that’ style video introducing mine. I’ve also used it to create short videos promoting new stock or particular titles.

Good to Know

As I don’t post directly to TikTok, I download my own (or sometimes other people’s) TikToks and then share them via Twitter or Teams. TikTok will watermark anything you create. This includes your username, so I use a watermark remover app to blur the name before I post it.

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