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Mapping libraries and archives on Mastodon

I’ve enjoyed being on Mastodon for the past year. It reminds me of how Twitter was in the early days. But Mastodon’s decentralized structure means that I find it hard to wrap my head around the entirety of the fediverse. For better or worse, I only see the parts that are adjacent to my instance.

To better understand this ecosystem, I wanted to see where the library and archives communities are on Mastodon. What instances do librarians and archivists use? Where are the conversations happening?

The Mastodon API lets you search your instance’s public timeline, including federated posts, for hashtags. This means that I can programmatically search for hashtags like #library, #archives, #archivist, etc. This allows me to collect some rough data about what instances are posting about libraries and archives.

The obvious downside to this is that this search is limited to the perspective of my local instance. To mitigate this, I created accounts on five instances in order to get a broader picture of the fediverse. These accounts don’t really do much – they don’t toot or follow or anything – but they periodically count known posts about libraries and archives. And because they are spread out over five instances, they are federated with a much larger number of Mastodon instances. Because Mastodon is not that big, relatively speaking, I can run the counts once a day and easily capture all of the relevant posts that these five instances see.

Here’s what I found after a couple of weeks of data gathering:

There are some obvious omissions here, like code4lib.social and digipres.club, both of which may be too small to be picked up by my search. Hopefully these results are interesting nonetheless.

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