Book Displays as Interactive Discovery Tool

This post is all about Book Displays so fasten your seatbelt for some heady and controversial stuff! No joke though, this ENTIRE post is about book displays so get into a trad services mood. I do think that we can do more in creating book displays that have greater interactivity.

That interactivity can take a lot of forms, we can flashy them up with some tech, we can make the act of taking a book from the book display a poll or a game in and of itself. Book displays are a great way to keep the nonfic turning over and as a means of unearthing deep collections and surprise holdings hidden on your shelves.

I really like the idea of finding off center commonalities in books and using book displays as a means of connecting books across topic areas, fiction/non-fiction lines, or even narrative media ie. graphic novels.

Incorporating fine art books on the topic at hand is a great way to brighten a display and get a circ on those big lovely expensive books of plates that people can’t ever afford to have in their homes. If it is a display about botany get some Georgia O’Keefe on display, if it a Halloween horror lineup include some Dore or Giger. Getting circs on those books keeps them from being weeded next year.

Interactive Book Displays

Tech Augmented Book Displays

  • Interaction between public and technology
  • How do you introduce arduino and raspberry pi into the book display itself to provide literal bells and whistles?
  • LEDs are cheap and easy enough to rig up.
  • Use the tech to do point of contact surveys? Run infrared lights or lasers to keep track of when books are picked up or taken away. Incorporate a pressure pad to track when a book is picked up. Keep a running survey even just by click button w/ display. Make people feel like they are a part of it using the technology.

Staff Pick Display Challenge

  • Interaction between staff and public and staff and staff.
  • Each staff member gets a bookshelf or a section of a bookshelf on a “STAFF PICKS” rank of shelves.
  • Staff can place whatever books they want to on this shelf with the intention of those books being picked up by patrons and checked out.
  • At the end of each day a page (or manager depending on your staff) counts how many books are missing from each staff member’s bookshelf.
  • At the beginning of each day staff refill their bookshelf and make changes and substitutions for the coming day.
  • At the end of the month all of the days are added up and a Champion is declared. The Champion receives a chocolate bar and a plastic tiara/crown.
  • This program costs about $4 a month to maintain if you buy your crowns/tiaras in bulk beforehand and get decent chocolate
  • Real results are that staff all hand sell books. Circulation figures across the branch go up because you have all of your librarians, paraprofessionals, and shelving staff competing to get books taken out mostly for bragging rights and in the spirit of competition.

Book Progression Sets

  • Interaction between multiple titles
  • This book leads to this book leads to this book
  • Can be a progression of skill ie in woodworking or chess
  • A fiction series
  • Graphic novel crossover arc
  • Idea is to have books checked out as a set
  • Have to manipulate circ to make the later ones due back after a longer period of time or renew automatically

Book Pairings

  • Interaction between staff and collection, Interaction and commonalities between texts
  • Goal is to do this with books just as you might with a meal and beverages
  • Some would be directly connected, others more tangentially but with a core connection
  • From Bauhaus To Our House by Tom Wolfe with High-Rise by JG Ballard
  • Salinger’s Franny & Zooey with a good translation of The Way of a Pilgrim
  • 1984 & Brave New World
  • Biographies of Nixon and Mao, Hitler and Churchill,Tupac and Biggie, any conflict between two people where both sides have been written about independently

Book Display Ideas

  • Stop Reading and Get Moving – Fitness
  • You Have Too Much Time On Your Hands – Hobbies
  • Bored? – Hobbies (Again, but public libraries usually have TONS of hobby books collecting dust and it is not like they go out of date very quickly)
  • Put Some Poetry In Your Life – Get those anthologies moving
  • The Play Is The Thing – All kinds of plays but absolutely some Wild Bill Shakespeare.
  • Starry Nights – Astronomy working books, hobbyist materials, telescopes, etc
  • Things To Do On A Hill At Night – Astronomy books, sex books, and books about murder (OK this one is clearly too much, I’m kidding, don’t do this book display, not even at Halloween or on April Fools Day (I am not encouraging you to do these book displays on those days!))
  • Bold Botany – Weed culture books, anything about growing in hydroponics or as part of doomsday prepping, cheap DIY greenhouses, old hippie 40 Acres and a Mule Stuff including that great public service stuff from the Dept of Agriculture from the 70s if you have any of it in Gov. Docs
  • Comics & Culture – Go for the highbrow stuff here. Art Comics, French Comics (Including Asterix that your Children’s Dept probably already owns), Books Without Words, the snooty stuff in the 741.5 section
  • Historical Mistakes – Benedict Arnold’s Sympathetic Biography, the Book That Talks About Napoleon’s Hemorrhoids, Chronicles of the Blunders of History, Biographies of Traitors and Misunderstood Geniuses
  • Literature of Different Regions – National and Regional book displays that correspond to major holidays for the nation or region being featured. Cooking, Art, Culture, Suspense Novels, Histories, Fashion, Children’s Books, Folk Tales, Travel Guides. Ideally tied to heritage programming.
  • Faith and Religion – Why the hell not? We avoid this stuff and as a result American’s can’t talk about religion at anything either above a whisper or below a scream. If we were all a little more aware of how the other person’s faith worked maybe it wouldn’t freak us out so much. Honestly, if I could get the community to go with it, I would include religious displays for everyone in one corner of the library. It would go through a rotation and change out and work by appointment ideally to match with the high holidays of the faith. Yes the Satanists could have it for a period of time, of course.

I realize I don’t have any pictures of any of these displays but if YOU decide to do one or work with these ideas I would love to hear about it.

These are part of The One That Got Away.

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