Take Down the Celebrities, Display the Students

How have you displayed inclusiveness, cultural competence or a support of individual and group perspectives during your practicum hours?> What changes could you make to the library to make it more accessible to people with special needs

In one of my Master’s classes, we discussed various elements of library design, ranging from Universal Design for Learning, having a variety of spaces (ex. small group, large group) and how to utilize space.

One particularly poignant video I remember watching was how one library was redesigned to truly represent their users. One of the most poignant aspects of this was that students who attended the school were photographed in various poses. These photographs were them blown up and displayed on the wall of the library as a sort of mural. Imagine, then, having a library that not only strives to represent its students in the books they choose, but to have its very own users adorning the walls.

The casual chat

One day, when I was chatting with the librarian at my school, she mentioned that she wanted to replace the READ posters that adorned our library walls with more up to date posters. READ posters are from ALA (American Library Association) and tend to showcase celebrities reading or holding a book. She lamented that due to district vendor limitations, she was unable to order new ones to update them. I mentioned to her the idea of displaying students.

I asked my husband, who has an eye for photo taking and an owner of a camera of much higher quality than my phone, to help.

We included the information in the announcements which ran for two weeks. It read as follows:

“Attention Students. Do you love to read? Do you want to share your love of reading? The library would like to update their READ posters that are on display in the library. These are the posters that reason on teh bookshelves and are of various celebrities, from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to actors from the Twilight movies. We would like to update these posters to showcase actual students holding their favorite book. If you are interested in a chance to be on display in teh library for years to come, please see us. You will need to fill out a form and permission slip.”

A total of 14 students submitted permission slips.

In addition to students, the library came up with the idea that showcasing our past and present principals would also be awesome.

The day of the photo shoot arrived and students and principals arrived with their favorite books in hand. Students and adults posed proudly with their favorite book around the school and in various places in the library.

After a few follow up photos of students and adults that could not make the initial shoot, we wrapped up our photos and our CTA began printing.

The result was incredible and feedback has been extremely positive.

My First Book Display

I almost always grab a book off of a book display. They tend to be children’s books, young adult or graphic novels. So, while I am a single example, I can say, albeit anecdotally, say that displays help circulation.

If we are going old school with display ideas, one need to look no further than the king of library science himself, S.R. Ranganathan. In his book Five Laws of Library Science, he suggests using displays to increase circulation of otherwise low circulated books. Phrases such as “Interesting books just unearthed,” “Books of the hour,” and “Long-forgotten but useful” are not too far from displays that librarians use now to attract the attention of the user (Ranganathan, 1931, p. 306). Ninety years later, Grover upholds this concept by saying that the first purpose is to “give books that are usually overlooked some limelight” (2021).

With all these thoughts in mind, I set out to create my first display. Based off a few Twitter feeds and articles such as Grovers, I had my own ideas for displays. However, the time in which the opportunity presented itself to me to execute my display was in January of 2022. So, I decided on the theme of learning something new.

The Look

For the visual posters, I used Canva. I decided on a positive, joyful message. In my casual interactions with students last semester, I found them to be stressed, overstimulated and just done.

For the second poster, was the main theme of the display which is, “Learn Something New,” in which I encouraged the students to use the hastag #ottolearns to post and tag themselves doing what they decided to learn in this new year.

The Books

The books I selected for this display were all pulled from the non-fiction section. I found it easy to focus mainly on topics of the arts such as cooking and drawing, so I made sure I included other topics such as, camping, learning about being a journalist, graphic design, careers if you like science and books in Spanish.

My First Display- January 2022

Takeaways

This is not my library, but keeping up with circulation based off the display should be as important as the display itself. That will be my goal for my next display. When I have stopped by the library, and have seen books that have been pulled from the display, I have replaced them with other books. Lesson learned? I need to have a system or utilize my collection analytics to see what change, if any, the display is having on user tendencies.

Secondly, while I lightly applaud myself for encouraging social media with the “Post a pic of your learning using this hashtag,” it does not have a focus. I myself have not yet posted a picture of myself using the hashtag and I doubt anyone else has. Perhaps a side display of posts from students could encourage this second element of the display, which is also more native to current middle school users.

Lastly, the amazing display ideas I have seen on Tiktok, Twitter and Pintrest almost always have a 3D element. For a Halloween theme, this might be cobwebs and little pumpkins peppering the display or anything that brings it to life more.

In any case, I was happy with my first display and am excited to already be working on my next one.

References

Grover, R. (2021, November 01). The art of creating book displays (part 2). Knowledge Quest. https://knowledgequest.aasl.org/the-art-of-creating-book-displays-part-2/

Ranganathan, S. R. (1931). The five laws of library science. Madras Library Association.