You know those days where all of the kids have the same assignment? While this happens a lot, the one that is our least favorite is Michigan biographies. It seems as if all the classes in our service area have the same assignment at the same time to coincide with Michigan week at the end of May. Now I don't know how familiar you are with Michigan. We have a lot of nice things going for us-camping, lakes, etc. When you talk about famous people, not so much. Then there is the fact that there are very few books written on the Michigan famous people other than Henry Ford and Rosa Parks. The kids who come in on the first day the assignment is passed out are all set. It's those kids who wait until the last minute that really need our help.
This is our Michigan biographies display. I like it because it helps the librarian quickly see if there are any biographies available. It also gives the kids a choice in famous people instead of just giving us a blank look when you ask who their report is on. We had to really stretch to pull this one together. Anyone with any sort of Michigan connection is pulled, whether they were born here, still live here, or played for a sports team.
In addition, we have a sign highlighting our Biography In Context database. This is to help those kids who need multiple sources for their report.
Here are today's tips for creating a display:
1. The area you are using should be clean (not dusty). After all, if you see dusty items on store shelves, do you really want to buy them?
2. If you are using sign holders, they should be in good condition. This includes no big scratches or cracks.
3. Pull visually pleasing titles. I like ones with bright colors or fun illustrations on the front. Covers should be in good condition, even if you have to add some book tape or replace the book cover. This is a good time to check over the section for books in need of repair.
4. Size matters-it creates interest. Big items should be in the middle and little items should be on the outside (think pyramid). This will draw your viewers eyes into the display. You can also start small and continually get bigger (like on my second shelf above), similar to a ramp. This is something, though, that you only want to do once and not throughout the whole display or it will look chaotic.
5. Can you pull items from more than one section? Can you add dvds? While I didn't do it here due to the theme, this makes the display fun. It also highlights your different collections. I get a lot of people saying, "Oh, I didn't know that you carried_________."
6. Can you pull in a web presence? This could be QR codes, highlighting your databases, or taking a picture and posting it on your library's Twitter account. With so many people having mobile technology, this is a great way to reach them.
7. Do you need a sign? Some displays are obvious, such as all books on the Titanic, and wouldn't need one. Some need a little help or you want to make a connection with something, such as a Michigan biography display and a Michigan biography assignment. You want the lightbulb to go off in people's minds when they see it.
8. Refill. Refill. Refill. No matter how much it excites you to see empty holes because it means the books are going out, the point is to highlight your collection. You can't do that if people can't see the items.
Random display fun-if you are out shopping at one of your favorite stores, pull out your smartphone and snap a picture of displays that interest you. Go home and look at the picture again and figure out why the display was appealing-was it colorful? Was it filled with items? Was there something else? Stores have merchandisers and libraries don't. This gives you a chance to learn some tips from them.