It’s In The Details

By Shannon Kazmierczak

We have all read articles about eye catching displays and fun ways to market our collections in the public library. These are as important of a part of the library as just having the materials themselves.

We know they work, too!  We have had our Staff Picks display up and found that our patrons really do value our opinions. We also have a Fresh Finds display, which is a book shelf that showcases our recently returned items which is a popular pick. We have award winners in our Youth Services and YA section, and of course seasonal displays of books in Adult Services and DVDs/records/cds in our AV section.

If we can’t come up with original ideas there are so many resources out there to use, like Pinterest boards devoted to displays where we all steal–I mean, borrow–ideas from one another. We want to entice our patrons to come into the library and give them passive suggestions about what to read, because shockingly, there are people out there who don’t want to talk to us…?

The library where I work does a pretty good job on keeping these displays fluid and interesting and doable. They are not over the top, but just eye-catching enough and easy-ish to put up and take down.

We do have one area in our library, though, where we don’t hold back – we refer to it as: the ceiling.

When our library was renovated and added onto more than a decade ago, the architect thought it would be a great idea to have the first floor lobby open up to an atrium that the second floor overlooks. They might not have thought about noise levels, air flow, etc, but it does make for a dramatic entrance and large space that draws up the eye. Which used to be nothing.

Then a few of my very creative, crafty and hard working coworkers saw opportunity! They saw the possibility of adding something to fill the void, and they were able to make some really magical things happen.

We have had real umbrellas with sparkling drops of rain fall down in the spring; we have had giant candy canes and treats (pictured) floating amongst life size scales of gingerbread men during the holidays; we have had large word bubbles highlight comic book “zaps” and “pows” during our annual Fan Fest; and our summer reading program always is thematically in sync.

What the ceiling displays have done, other than welcoming patrons, is created a sense of consistency with an element of surprise. Patrons come in each season, wondering: what’s next?  And, “how on earth were you able to get those all the way up there?” The best sounds to hear when up on the 2nd floor are when the littlest patrons come in to “ooh” and “ahh” and yell “pumpkins” while pointing to the ceiling.

Creating a welcoming environment through these non-book displays became even more valuable knowing that there were several people cross-departmentally who made it happen.  The designer had to make sure the size and scale was correct, the maintenance person needed to make sure the air lift was working on the designated day, and the originator of the concept had to make sure that all of these little pieces were going to fit together! 

I’m not going to sit there and say my co-workers are better than yours. . .but this community is pretty lucky.