We buy between five and six hundred new books for our college library each year. There is usually a big rush on new titles when they first come out. After the initial rush the books become hidden on the library shelves amongst the other seven thousand titles. We are only an average size college library but at this point the books seem to disappear for many students who find the act of browsing shelves difficult or have no starting point for a computer search.
In my experience students generally select books visually.
In the children’s area of the public library and in the school library after a class visit it’s the books on display that disappear first – I know because it’s often been me who has to replace them all!
This is something that every librarian knows but it isn’t always reflected in the way that we approach the promotion of our wonderful resources.
There are many reasons why people don’t bother with displays. Many of us are solo librarians working very hard doing everything and display seems to be at the bottom of our ‘things to do’ list. Displays may even seem unimportant and trivial, the icing on the cake. Some people assume they belong in the primary domain. Many don’t think about displays because they feel they are not creative enough.
We need to be actively promoting our resources; otherwise they could lay dormant on the shelves. There are several ways in which this process happens, display is an important one.
Too time consuming?
As for the time factor, all my displays are very quick (and cheap). I will jot an idea down and think about it every now and again, gradually building on it. I cut letters etc out while chatting to students at breaktimes, often they offer to help.
If the making of a display becomes a process, it really isn’t very time consuming at all.
Not creative enough?
I firmly believe that everyone is creative. It doesn't matter if a display isn't a great work of art. The students really couldn't care less about that, what is important is that the display is simple and uncluttered and the message is clear and it draws their eyes to it. We musn't lose sight of the fact that our aim is not to demonstrate our artistic talent but promote the books from our library shelves.
No wall space for displays?
Try a display utilising some of your shelves or a bay-end. Some of the ideas on this site show display banners or displays on windows and doors. Do a keyword search for some of these alternative display places - you may be surprised!
I am happy to try and answer any questions you may have.
Good luck and happy displaying!!! :)