I have a love-hate relationship with book displays in libraries.
On the one hand, I want do to everything possible to get my collection to check out as much as possible.
On the other hand, I feel like it’s a waste of time and effort to do too many book displays.
Above all that is the slight pressure from admin and supervisors to do awesome book displays, to do clever and catchy displays that they can share online and brag about. But if I spend a couple hours on a cool display I can post on Instagram, and then no one checks any books out from it, was it worth it? I don’t think so. Hell, no.
Here’s what works for me:
- Displays get books out front and in the faces of patrons. It facilitates browsing of materials.
- Displays should get the books out of the stacks and up front and center.
- Patrons respond best to personal recommendations from staff. Patrons will actually check books out if an actual person recommends it to them.
- I use displays to facilitate personal recommendations of YA materials when I’m not there to do Reader’s Advisory. I pull a certain genre, or some of my favorites, and put those on a display or two. Then I communicate to the rest of my department that I personally pulled those books and they can recommend them to patrons instead of having to do the Reader’s Advisory themselves.
- Of course, this requires trust and a good relationship between you and your coworkers. I waited until I heard from my coworkers that they were having trouble finding books to suggest to teens, or that they weren’t getting good responses from the teens they gave books to. Then I suggested this as a solution for them.
Here’s what doesn’t work:
- Passive displays featuring write-ups of books, themes, or whatever simply don’t work well in my library.
- People don’t stop to read text on displays.
- Intricate or detailed displays deter patrons from actually touching the books on them.
- Doing displays in low-traffic areas of the library
- Putting books on displays that are below waist level
Want to share what works for you and doesn’t work? Comment away! I would love to hear from other people in libraries and bookstores about their experiences!