The Art of the Display

December 6, 2018

What criteria should a librarian use to determine how successful a library display truly is? Should you consider how often the books are removed? The quality of the literature displayed? The timeliness of the topic? The inventiveness?

Or should we do it the way our forefathers and foremothers intended? That’s right. Twitter hits.

Recently one of our librarians saw a very cool library display at another system. The premise was quite simple. There is a literary trend afoot at the moment where a woman is alluded to but never named. Everything from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to Gone Girl to The Woman in the Window.  Call it a title trend, if you like. One or two of these books and it’s intriguing. Four or five and it’s charming. Fifty a week and it’s outstayed its welcome. The display that the library had conjured up was to show these books alongside a sign that said, “SHE HAS A NAME”. Then, librarians meticulously Post-It Noted each book with the name of the woman in the title.

Picasso is thought to have once said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”  I would amend that slightly in this case to read, “Good librarians copy; great librarians borrow.” It is par for the course for librarians to borrow ideas for displays from one another (and from booksellers too, for that matter). So in due time we put up our own display and it seemed to be popular. Then I put it on Twitter.

565 retweets and 1,937 likes later, we had ourselves a hit. I wouldn’t necessarily dub it viral, but this is perhaps the most popular thing I’ve ever put on Twitter before, and certainly the most popular thing that was library-related. Now libraries all around the country are making their own displays. It just goes to show what can happen when somebody gets a good idea.

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