Milwaukee Public Library is TikTok famous. Here's what to know. – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Danny Torrance riding his tricycle and encountering the Grady Twins’ ghosts. A bucket of blood poured onto prom queen Carrie White. Pennywise holding red balloons. 
The Milwaukee Public Library and Milwaukee Downtown collaborated to recreate these and other iconic moments from Stephen King classics for a TikTok video just in time for the Halloween season. 
The library’s post highlighted the recent digitization of the audio of a 1980 King TV interview that also featured a local psychiatrist and a librarian. 
“It was an opportunity to show some really fun stuff about downtown and about Central Library, but also to promote a resource that we have,” said Eileen Force Cahill, MPL’s director of community relations and engagement. 
This is just one of the library’s many TikToks that have been hits since the account launched about three and a half months ago. 
The account has garnered more than 36,200 followers and 1 million likes.
One of those followers? Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon. And just like Witherspoon, a lot of the library’s followers are from beyond the state, according to Force Cahill.
Its TikToks are just that good. 
Force Cahill said her team sees TikTok as a way for the library to connect with younger generations. 
“It’s been a really fun way for us to build awareness of the library as a place that’s not just like a dusty room where a bunch of ladies with buns and glasses are going to shush you,” she said. “Not only do we have all these modern amenities, but we can hang and connect with patrons of all ages.” 
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, MPL found that social media was the most effective way to communicate with its patrons. For years, the library has had Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. 
“We really kind of ramped up our efforts, just to make content more dynamic and gain new followers,” Force Cahill said. 
There was interest among staff members — particularly Derek Reilly and Fawn Siemsen-Fuchs — to start a TikTok account, she said.
Before launching on a new platform, staff members tried their hand at short-form video via Instagram Reels. 
“They really took off,” Force Cahill said. “We started gaining more followers, we had higher engagement with patrons, some of the items we were featuring had more circulation, we had increases in database usage.” 
Over the summer, the library created its TikTok account.
“All of the work that we do in all of our marketing is to create connections for patrons to use our services and materials, utilize our staff and online resources — not just the books,” Force Cahill said. “We thought TikTok could be a fun way of doing that.” 
As the library’s TikTok managers, Reilly and Siemsen-Fuchs follow trends closely, keep tabs on what’s happening at the library and have a running list of video ideas, Force Cahill said. 
And staff across the library’s entire system contribute ideas, act in videos and provide props, she said. MPL has 13 locations. 
“Outside of our communications and marketing team — and there’s four of us — most of the folks that contribute to our social media have other full-time jobs at the library,” Force Cahill said. “It’s also a great way for folks to do something that they love and showcase their own creativity in a manner that they might not otherwise be able to do considering the work that they do.” 
The library has posted more than 70 TikToks so far. Oftentimes, the staff takes a viral TikTok trend and makes it their own by connecting it to information about the library and what it has to offer. 
Remember that TikTok trend where people were dressing up in black suits to see “Minions: The Rise of Gru” in theaters? 
The library made a TikTok showcasing its Minions-related materials. Yes, suits and bananas were involved. 
Another trend — which the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also got in on — was using a filter of Shrek that made it look like he was popping up behind whatever you aimed your phone at. 
The library had the beloved green ogre emerge from behind Central Library, then take a stack of Shrek DVDs from inside. 
Some of the library’s more elaborate videos have taken a couple weeks of planning, were filmed over the course of a few days, spanned different locations and included several staff members, Force Cahill said.
Others were filmed by one staff member at their desk with a green screen, she said. 
Sometimes, the library takes on more serious topics.
One of Force Cahill’s personal favorites features the text “POV: You’re asking a librarian for a book on a sensitive subject” over a librarian behind an “Ask” desk. 
She mouths “How can I help you?” then leads the camera over to books on topics from grief and addiction to divorce and gender identity. 
One TikTok user commented: “The public libraries were my safe place, growing up in Milwaukee. Thank you for being there for me!” 
Another commenter said: “This made me cry thinking about my small, rural town librarian handing me books about being gay after I rode my bike there when I was 13. Thank you.”
“We got a lot of feedback from people,” Force Cahill said. “You can see in the comments just how much it meant to them.” 
“Sometimes librarians can change the course of a person’s life just by connecting them to a resource they might not otherwise have,” she said. 
For Banned Books Week — “the annual celebration of the freedom to read” — the library and the Brewcity Bruisers teamed up for a video. 
Members of the roller derby group skated throughout the space, protecting — and highlighting — banned selections, including “And Tango Makes Three,” “The Hate U Give” and “All American Boys.” The video’s intro text says: “Keep your bans off our books.” 
Force Cahill said she wants to maintain the account’s energy, continue creating engaging content, and keep people — especially younger age groups — engaged with the organization. 
“Ultimately, we’re really proud,” she said. “We’re just thrilled we can connect with patrons in new ways and remind them of all of the resources that you can only get at your public library for free and for everybody.” 
To check out the library’s TikTok, visit And for more information on the library and its resources, visit
Contact Hannah Kirby at Follow her on Twitter at @HannahHopeKirby.


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