Tag Archives: Display ideas

20 year-round library display ideas

One of the most fun parts of my job is coming up with display ideas. I find that patrons really enjoy the book recommendations from displays, I see that those shelves get empty pretty fast sometimes.

I dig the world wide web for ideas (why not, right? I LOOOOVE that our community is so generous to share what they do so others can be inspired by them!) and compile those I like in a personal document.

Besides the regular time-sensitive events throughout the year (major holidays, celebratory months for many different causes, etc), I usually try to find timeless themes that can work at any point, specially if it will make parts of the collection that are not so popular move.

So, here’s a list of 20 timeless display themes for you:

1. Kleenex-worthy books

Grab a tissue before you read those!


2. From the bottom shelf

I bet patrons rarely kneel to see what’s on those bottom shelves.

3. Dear Diary

Memoirs, diaries, personal stories.


4. I’ve got my eyes on you

This one is more time-consuming, but so fun! Grab those books with eyes on the cover.

(I did the sign above using Canva – it’s free!)

5. Shhh! It’s a secret!

Any books about secrets or with “secret” on the title.

6. Armchair travel

Travel books, travelogues, memoirs about going places, books that take place in other countries.


7. Pawsitively Pawsome Books

Pet-owners (and pet-owner wannabes) will all swoon!


8. Out of this world

Sci-fi, outer space, aliens, and so on.

9. Just kidding

Humour, jokes, funny memoirs, anything to make readers laugh out loud.


10. What’s your name?

Names in the title.

11. If you liked (insert title/author), you will like (readalikes)

12. Small books

In dimensions, not number of pages.

13. Misfit memoirs

14. Once upon a crime


15. Predicting the future

Distopias, classics like 1984, Brave New World, etc.

16. Way back when

Historical fiction

17. Build something

18. New (or local) authors

19. Award-winning books

20. Literary bad boys

Inspired by NYPL

One of my favourite places to find ideas is Pinterest. There are TONS of boards on library displays.

Now it’s your turn to share other timeless display ideas in the comment section! 😉

Ana Calabresi is a librarian at Port Moody and Burnaby Public Libraries.

One funny book cover with a mustache

We at Port Moody are a little late to the merchandising game, but this year, we finally got a set of display units for our entrance area to showcase our new books. That leaves us a nice feature book wall, plus a couple units to do some rotating displays.  

Verdict from staff: Book displays are awesome.

Made you talk

Movember Display at Port Moody Library

Starting a random chat with a stranger is hard, but not when you get to talk about books. We can talk about books forever, right? 

Book displays make it easier to engage a customer (and vice versa) and strike up a conversation. For example, ever since our Movember display went up, almost every desk shift I would have someone come up to me and say, “I was looking at your display over there and thought, ‘what a funny book cover. It’s got a mustache on it’, and then I looked over at the other books, and I realized, ‘wait a second, they all have mustaches on them. How fun!’”

The kids who walked by would make their parents wait until they finished touching every single mustache, giving me the chance to say, “Hey kids, want me to find some mustache books for you to take home?”

Make you look

Library stacks rarely change, so walking into the library can feel pretty routine sometimes. You know exactly where your “stuff” is and you head straight there.

Book displays offer something different, breaking people’s patterns and make them stop to see what’s new or changed at your library.  It is also delightful to see your favourite books highlighted. I know I feel like the library was personalized for me that day when I did saw this horror display for Halloween. Finally, something for me!

Horror Display at Halloween

Made you laugh

They laughed at this corny joke. I saw it. Well worth the effort making people smile, or roll their eyes in some cases.

I like Big Books and I cannot lie display

This display was an idea found on Pinterest (a treasure trove of merchandising ideas). “Big” was interpreted by some as “big” as in oversized and “big” as in War and Peace big by others.

By the way, according to our Twitter follower, the next line of the song is “Your other readers can’t deny”.

Yes, book displays also make excellent social media posts. 

Made you…confused?

Displays don’t always have to be logical, or restricted to a certain genre or topic. At least that’s our theory here. The funnest ones we have done are definitely random, but the advantage of “random” is that you can gather books from across the whole spectrum of your collection, highlighting all sorts of backlist titles. Something for everyone on your display: checked!

“I don’t know the name of the book but it’s [insert colour]” is an easy random display to do, also pretty to look at. Plus, you can mobilize the whole staff to find you books with that colour as they shelve or check books in.

Another one of our favourite is “Judge the book by its title”. 

Some Like it Hot Some Like It Cold

This display was inspired by a staff debate of whether the office was too cold or too hot. Remember this past summer with the unrelenting heat? (you know which side of that debate I was on) Well, the office’s AC was adjusted constantly, fans were turned on and off on a daily basis, people complained and others countered. So our verdict: Let’s agree to disagree.

See more blog posts on displays, and don’t miss your library’s Black Friday deals, extended all week just for you.

Black Friday display

Virginia McCreedy
Port Moody Public Library



Readers’ Advisory for E-books (display ideas)

someecards-ebooksfrom Pinterest

It’s a fact: E-books are becoming more and more popular these days. Many of us dread the idea that one day our traditional physical books might become extinct (I particularly think this will not happen any time soon, not in our lifetime anyway, and most likely not in the couple next generations, hopefully). However, it is clear that e-readers are increasingly making their way into the hands of readers. I am a huge enthusiast of digital reading, I love how practical it is, especially when you want to read big, heavy books. Turning a page is as easy as a quick tap on the screen.

What does this mean for us librarians?

I’ve seen people talking about “readers’ advisory for e-books”. While researching for this article, I came across this post in Library Journal. The author and commenters raise good questions that we need to address when we think about e-books in libraries. I actually agree with the commenter who said RA is not about the medium, but rather the content itself. That means, it doesn’t really matter if the books is in print, audio or digital format, what we recommend to readers is the content, the work. It’s really up to the readers to decide what format is more appropriate for them.

Books are the brand of libraries. All formats of books. All. Formats. With the need of an intermediary technology on which to read the story, e-books present a fascinating area of advisory for librarians. We need to be able to be advisors of technology in addition to content.

Katie Dunneback, in E-Books and Readers’ Advisory (Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50-4, pp 325-329).

I’ve had many patrons come to me at the information desk asking about Library To Go (Overdrive) and our e-books in general. They usually ask me to help them set up the app on their devices and demonstrate how the digital borrowing works. Most of them are older patrons who have been recently introduced to e-readers and tablets. Come to think of it, it makes total sense that we get approached mostly by patrons who are not tech-savvy, as younger people are more used to technology and can figure out their devices on their own. These interactions have never been about book recommendations though, they are focused on “technology advisory” if we can give it such a name. When it comes to e-books, we’re using our instruction hats rather than recommending books.

So, I believe the main issue here is promoting our digital collection to patrons. How can we do it more effectively? I think many people don’t yet realize we have these resources available. Many libraries already promote events where they demonstrate how Overdrive works. That’s great! But I think there’s more we could do to make our digital collections more visible to patrons who are not yet used to technology.

Below are some ideas for e-book displays I found on Pinterest.

Printing book covers and adding QR codes for direct links in the catalogue. How simple and cleaver!

WHS-ebook-displayWHS Library

Helena College Library


Centralia Public Library

Another great idea I found in the Overdrive marketing resources is adding stickers in physical books indicating those are also available in digital format. Or creating shelf talkers, slips of paper with the information for the e-book.

rsz_medallion600 rsz_shelfcard600Sacramento Public Library

rsz_2e77bacf793561c7d991e4c237d43286Marketing resources from Overdrive

Claire Moore, from Darien Library in Connecticut, has more ideas for promoting digital collections to patrons, especially young ones.

What’s your opinion? What do you think readers’ advisory for e-books means? And how can we do it?

Ana Calabresi is an Auxiliary Librarian at Burnaby Public Library and loves her Kindle!

All Things Pinterest

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing is creating displays. One of the things I rarely have time for is creating displays. Thus I have become a devotee of Pinterest. And while I do have a board for Shoe Lust and other frivolous things I actually started using Pinterest to collect ideas for library displays.

One RA display we’re working on now is using paper fortune tellers or cootie catchers in a teen Paper fortune tellerdisplay. A colleague came up with the idea and I like the interactive nature of this display idea. She redesigned the categories for a teen audience making them more creative and slightly esoteric.

Another colleague created a Reading Tree display and a Book In A Jar that gets people to guess the name of the book cut up in pieces and placed (strategically) in a mason jar. The Book In A Jar was wildly popular and a great passive programming idea. It’s tactile and beckons people to pick it up, which they did. It’s labour intensive though and only good once. If you’re part of a bigger system or can share it with other libraries the program has more life.Book in a jar

I’ve tried Pinterest too for straight up RA. I did searches like “If you liked A Fault in our Stars” or Divergent and the results were just ok. There’s a lot of flotsam to get through till you find something useful. When I’ve got someone standing in front of me asking me to recommend a book to them, Pinterest is not the first place I turn to. Interestingly though in the last couple of weeks Pinterest has added limiter buttons to their search capacity. I found that Reading Lists is a good one to start with and then you add (and/or subtract) limiter suggestions, like 2014, classic, kids, etc. Unfortunately, another thing Pinterest did recently was add an annoying “There’s more to see” shadow that partially blocks out results so that those without accounts can’t easily see the images.

A favourite by-product about using Pinterest to generate ideas (or outright steal) is that the photos give viewers a glimpse into the libraries themselves. For the most part the images aren’t stylized; they’re real. I can see the info desks, notice the industrial lighting or covet a swanky new space. I love the creativity that library staff exudes using paper and ingenuity. We all love to share those things we’re most proud of. In this sense, Pinterest is an excellent tool that reaches beyond our walls to share our successes.

If you have any Pinterest boards you’d like to recommend post them in the comments below.

By Chris Conroy, Information Services Librarian, Fraser Valley Regional Library

Freedom to Read- How do YOU celebrate?

freedom to read blindfold CE

Provocative display at GVPL

Freedom to Read,  celebrated each  February 24 to March 2,  reminds Canadians of their right to free expression and the freedom to read.   It should provoke  conversation about intellectual freedom. It prompts librarians to remember   the values underpinning our profession and  should impell us to work to advance  intellectual freedom and fight  censorship.

How did your library mark Freedom to Read?

Eye catching displays  are easy to do but discouraging if you can’t keep a display stocked.   Wrapping dummies in brown paper and  identifying the title on the wrapper makes it easy to keep a display full. Most libraries don’t have all the books on the challenged lists so using a dummy is doubly effective.  Books in brown paper have a way of encouraging conversation too!  If the display is near staff desk, so much the better to get people guessing why a book was banned or challenged.  We found people were unwrapping the dummies hoping to get more information and to take the book home.

Books in brown wrappers!

Books in brown wrappers

Planning  a  book talk where patrons read and discuss challenged material is another excellent way to provoke discussion.  Try a casual drop in book talk/discussion during the week where you have a selection of  challenged titles to prompt discussion.   Make some noise by setting up a speakers corner every lunch hour   in your foyer where staff or patrons read from challenged or banned books.  UBC planned a marathon reading of challenged books.  Great idea!

Lets talk professionally about how we handle hot material or material which patrons have challenged. How do we uphold  CLA’s statement that libraries should fulfill responsibility to intellectual freedom while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups? It is a hard line to walk.   What have you withdrawn on the basis of a complaint?  Is it easy for patrons to find your invitation to  reconsideration or do you bury it  to dissuade all but the most determined?

Has material in your library  been challenged online?  Challenges are always somewhat upsetting but when posted to a Facebook page the prospect of going viral is alarming.   Has your library got policies in place for this eventuality?

Intellectual freedom and the backbone to defend it is always part of readers advisory.

freedom to read flames

Burning books