Book display roundup – lessons learned from March

For the main book display in March, I used this awesome article from Buzzfeed of all places. 22 Books You Should Read Now, Based on Your Childhood Favorites. We didn’t have all of the rec’d titles in our collection, so we purchased some of them, or I just left them out. Of the 18 or so books that were displayed, we had 9 of them checked out, and some of them were checked out more than once, like Never Let Me Go and Catch-22. So, success! I think the students found it easy to understand which book would appeal to them, since I taped the blurb next to each pair.

Also in March we got our spring shipment in of new fiction from Follett, and we displayed them right at the circulation desk, which is as front and center as you can get in my library. It was a great way to push fiction onto the kids. It’s not that they don’t like reading, it’s just that most of them are extremely bogged down with school work, so fiction gets pushed to the side. But when a tempting book is right in their face, it’s harder for them to say no.

February bulletin board

Black History month bulletin board

February’s bulletin board was famous African Americans from Washington, DC. I had a lot of assistance from a couple of the kids when creating the list, as well as a pretty spirited argument over whether or not to include Thurgood Marshall and Frederick Douglass. My argument was that they lived here so long they counted and were too important to leave off, and the kids’ argument was that Douglass was more associated with Baltimore, and I was just plain crazy to have Marshall. But since I’m the adult, I won haha.

February book display/outreach plan (it’s Valentine-y!)



For February I pulled all of the books with a strong romantic element that I could find in our fiction stacks (fortunately we have a lot!). Then I searched the net for the most playful, groan-inducing pun-filled Valentine’s Day cards I could find, bonus points if they referenced some sort of nerdy tv show or book (think Dr. Who, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Mine Craft, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, etc. Just search funny valentines and a whole bunch will come up on Google Image Search). Of course everything had to be kept PG. I printed them out, cut out some paper hearts and plastered the walls, windows, circulation desk, study carrels, basically any open surface with V-Day goodness. The kids have really enjoyed it so far, I see a lot of them showing their friends their favorites. The in-your-face cards are the most important piece in my plan to bring the kids into the library, and then hopefully to the books.

As for the books themselves, I wanted to make sure I had a lot of different genres represented. In the email I sent school-wide I divided them into 3 general categories: Contemporary slice-of-life YA, fantasy action and adventure, and historical/literary fiction. The full list of titles featured is at the end of this post.

And speaking of the email, I sent 2 test emails to personal accounts that I could check on my smartphone because that is how the majority of our students read their school email. My first draft was a nice table with lots of images at the top and a long descriptive paragraph. It looked great on my laptop, but it was way too long on the phone. I cut a bunch of the verbiage and reduced the number of pictures and all-around simplified the entire thing to get straight to the point. Yes, it is less pretty than my original draft, but when your priority is getting teens’ attention for long enough to get your message across, the quicker you can get to the main point, the better.

In order to maximize all opportunities for grabbing the kids’ attention, I created a virtual bookshelf on our OPAC. I’m not sure how much eye traffic it will get, but since it was easy to do, I felt it was worth doing.

So the plan in summary:

1. Pull books with strong romantic elements off the stacks and onto displays
2. Create a fun, visually exciting gimmick to grab attention and give the kids reasons to come back for repeat visits
3. Send mass email for more promotion
4. Cross-promote with any other applicable website/app possible. The more times you can hit your users with your message, the greater your chance of successful outreach!

Titles Featured

Contemporary slice of life YA:

The Beginning of Everything, Artichoke’s Heart, Someone Like You, Vintage Veronica, Bloom, I Like Him He Likes Her, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Winger, The Infinite Moment of Us, I Love You Beth Cooper


Unraveling, Hunger Games, Pulse, Wicked Lovely, Across the Universe, Impossible, Delirium, A Corner of White, Pure, Fated, Beautiful Creatures, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Literary fiction/Classics:

A Room With A View, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, One Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, The English Patient, Emma, 1Q84

January’s bulletin board


For January I made a display of the best books of 2013. I pulled the titles from the New York Times Book Review, NPR’s staff picks, and Amazon’s list of the best books of the year. I wanted a mix of fiction and non-fiction and I kept it to adult titles, no YA (Eleanor & Park straddles the line in my opinion).

Digital Literacy Corps aka Librarians

I got this in my library school listserv, and I want to amplify the message:

It’s been a heated 24 hours since Matt Richtel’s loaded New York Times article “Wasting Time is New Divide in the Digital Era” ( and public and school librarians have answered back in a big way. The FCC’s proposed $200 million initiative to develop a digital literacy corps- “hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.”

There are a great number of issues with this statement, and in the presentation of evidence in this article. Namely, the digital literacy corps already exists (they’re called librarians), and moreover they’ve been doing the job amid record high numbers of information needs that coincide with record lows in budget cuts and imploded programs. These funds could easily be reallocated to offset the deficit in promised funds in LSTA and IALA (for more information please visit, but the more chilling issue is an old problem: people clearly don’t know what librarians do.

Emphasis mine. Friends, if you don’t know how to use the internet, your computer, smartphone, e-reader, or even your tv, I can guarantee you that someone at your public library can help you learn. We love to help. Let me repeat that: WE LOVE TO HELP. And despite the stereotype of starchy old ladies with horn-rim glasses, we are usually some of the most tech-savvy people out there. We’re like IT guys, except we aren’t snobby about our mastery of technology.

Do consider sending an email to the FCC asking them to support funding libraries instead of creating an entirely new program to foster digital literacy. Public and school libraries already have the knowledge, talent, and infrastructure needed to get this off the ground.

Fran Bullington, a school librarian who writes at Informania has already put together a sample letter:
To: Julius Genachowski, FCC Chairman (

I just read the NY Times May 30, 2012 article entitled “Wasting Time is New Digital Divide in Digital Era.”  As an educator, I realize the importance of information and digital literacy.  As a school librarian, I have been trained to teach information literacy skills.  I collaborate with classroom teachers to teach lessons in which I incorporate these skills.

However, the recession has had an enormous impact on school libraries.  Many programs have been completely cut; others are being run by volunteers rather than a certified school librarian; and other programs have lost their assistants, whose job of handling routine procedures freed the school librarian to plan with teachers.

I noticed that the FCC is considering “a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.”

Although I applaud the intent of teaching digital literacy skills to our students, I question the expenditure of these funds.  Why not instead funnel these funds into school library programs to allow trained, certified professionals to teach the skills?

I look forward to hearing from you on this vital issue.


Thanks to Rebecca Oxley (@LibrariansFTW) for sending the email that started it all.

What’s new in the world of eBooks?

NPR had a segment on Morning Edition today about libraries and their struggles to provide ebooks to patrons. It’s a nice summation of the issue.

If you want to go deeper: the American Library Association just published a report on the state of ebooks and other digital content in libraries today.