Library Displays – Go Big or Go Home… or at least go crazy!

by Shayna Monnens, Head Editor, INALJ South Dakota

Library Displays – Go Big or Go Home… or at least go crazy! 

Shayna.Monnens.SDI love library displays. I love making them. I love that feeling of putting one up. I love seeing one I have done out for the world to see​​. I love looking at other library displays and getting ideas. I love displays.

I am so fortunate to have the background that I have and being a librarian. I am in love with the work that I do behind the desk, but also the creations that I put out there for the patrons to see. I have a background in art and I am a “crafty” individual. I love making big, showy displays that require thought and some engineering and lots of creative juices flowing. I enjoy being able to use the talents I have to draw attention to some aspect of the library, but also have it classy and library-ish. Except in the children’s area. There I get to just have fun. Massive look and find Halloween mansions? Oh yea!

Library displays are great ways to draw attention to certain items or areas of the library that maybe don’t get the attention that they deserve. I get a lot of great ideas from Rachel Moani, who sadly had her blog hacked, but now runs a really great Pinterest page. She is the creative soul we all strive to be!

So I try. Very hard. Different days of the years (Pooh Day, International Pirates Day) are all deserving of displays, but so are gardening books in spring. Or books on throwing parties and gatherings that are on display in early November to prepare people for the holiday season. Or pushing mangas during the month of February, because honestly, what says love better than human eating titans and strange vampire relationships and cursed families changing species when they touch the opposite gender? The displays don’t have to be monstrosities (contrary to the title of this blog entry), but can be as elaborate or simplisitic as you desire. The end goal is all the same – draw the patron’s eyes to something they didn’t think they wanted, but now that they have seen it, they need it!

I will admit it is easy to get lazy during the “off season” in the library. The times when there isn’t much going on, but really those are the times that we really need to push items. Get people interested in something new. One of my favorite running displays if there isn’t much going on is a staff recommendations shelf. That is so much fun because our staff has such varied interests, and that is the best. It would be boring if we all recommended the same things, but we don’t. And honestly, not much makes me happier than seeing an adult pick up a juvenile or a YA book that I selected. Slowly, but surely, I am broadening the audience for our younger collections. I love it!

However, summer is really when I get to let loose and have fun. Not only is the theme for this summer amazing, it is all about science, but there are such differences in the themes for the different age groups. The adults is all about classic reading and introducing them to different materials than they would normally read. The teen and young adult program is all about being creative and sparking that reaction. The kids and early literacy is the big science theme, and is so much fun to work with.

Not to toot my own horn (toot! too!), but I really have to say I outdid myself this year. I’m really not bragging….I promise…

Ok, yes I am.

I opted this year to do three huge displays – one for each age group. My library now contains a massive Literary Elements periodic table of literature and authors, but also a hand painted Imaginator that is spewing books onto the wall. My pride though the actual machine from the kids’ “Fizz Boom READ!” poster. That one took the longest and is by far the most impressive. It not only contains four large stained pickle jars (you should have seen the looks we got when we brought those into the library – our staff is sick of eating Kosher pickles :D), but a “fizzy” FIZZ made out of spray foam, and also some awesome Minecraft-style letters. It took so long to prep and put together, but is so worth it everytime I see a child or a parent just look at it. It’s even better when I get a wow.

You don’t have to actually go big or go home. You just can’t be afraid to do something that is a little out there and crazy. I have a bit of a reputation now at the library, and whenever the massive stacks of cardboard under my desk work their way out, without fail, I will have people stop by my desk to ask what I am working on now. It’s a great feeling, knowing that people appreciate the displays that we put up and the work we do to keep our patrons engaged in our library.

Maybe you don’t think the library displays you put up don’t get the action or attention they deserve, but I promise you that at least one person will stop and look. And that one person can start it all. People tend to stop and notice what other people are looking at, and that one person makes a difference. Don’t get disheartened when a display doesn’t get a great response. That’s ok. Just means we get to try again. We librarians are some seriously resilient folk. We are used to poor numbers and lackluster attendance. But, we keep trying. Again, and again, and again.

My biggest piece of advice for displays? Go CRAZY! Have fun! Do something different!

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to hoard cardboard for a rainy day.

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