Making book displays is one of my favorite little things I get to do as a librarian. There’s something comforting about picking out the books and bringing them out of the stacks to share with students. It’s an act of care that’s different than what I do in the classroom or at the reference desk–a little more free-form, a little more “just because.”
Last week I set up a Library Staff and Patron Book Display. I set out markers and old catalog cards with the vague instructions to add a favorite book to the display and decorate a card to go with it.
Staff & Patron Book Display from lmwallis
First I sent out the call to the student workers I supervise at the reference desk. I like to find little ways like this to encourage them to participate in what we do at the library. I think it helps them feel confident and take more ownership of their work at the ref desk–but I digress! I also asked the library faculty and staff and additional student workers to contribute.
Then I set up the display, leaving blank spaces on the shelves for more books to be added. I wish I could say that patrons have flooded the shelves, adding their favorite books right and left. We’ve had some books added, but what surprised me was the number of books that are getting checked out. It’s midterms time and yet they’re grabbing novels like The Handmaid’s Tale and Jitterbug Perfume! Success! The display is definitely getting lots of students to stop and look, and I hope they’re thinking that it’s a little something different, that it means we respect them and want to listen to what they have to say.
I did something similar in April for National Poetry Month. I wasn’t thinking of it as a makerspace at the time but it definitely fits the idea. In addition to a display of poetry books I made a giant magnetic poetry board (full disclosure: I yanked this idea straight from the collective genius of the library blogosphere). Students had lots of fun with this one!