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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Help Me To Help More Libraries Add interactive Elements to Their Displays

One of my 2018 mantras, something I bring up in conversation as many times as I can when I am working with library staff, is that every single one of our library displays needs to be interactive in some way. Click here for a post on the topic.

I have been spreading this notion far and wide and many of you are doing it. Some are embracing it 100% and others are taking baby steps to introduce interactive elements to your displays. But, unfortunately, there is a good number of you who have also contacted me to let me know that you are receiving push back from your administrators who despite encouraging you to watch my webinars and attend my training programs, don’t want you to “rock the boat.”

I have received a handful of emails from people who need more data, photos, or even just communication from libraries who have tried to make their displays more interactive before they are allowed to proceed further.

Now, if I have received 5 or 6 emails about this topic in the last few weeks, experience says that there are at least 5 times that many people who have experienced similar administrative resistance and have not reached out. Plus the number of you who are even afraid to try for fear of backlash from superiors.

So today, I am appealing to all of you to help me. I know that a lot of you have taken my advice and have had great success. I know because you have told me in emails and in person. But, I need this information gathered all in one place, here on this post, so I can help those who are encountering resistance at making their libraries more participatory and giving patrons a chance to have a say in their own service. Sigh. It doesn’t seem like I should have to do this, but alas, I do. And, unfortunately after almost 20 years working in the public library world, I do know the level of bureaucracy out there so I am not surprised.

Here is what we are going to do...together. If you are willing to help, please post a comment to this post whenever you get a chance. Leave some information about what types of interactive displays you have done and if you can, link it out to some pictures from your social media or webpages. Also please leave your name and your library info so the library staff who need your help in order to serve their patrons better can contact you for more information.

Here what I promise to do in return for all of you. Once I start to get some comments here, I will include this post in all of my presentations. I will promote the good work each of you is doing at your libraries to every library I visit. In turn, I hope that by keeping this post “alive,” I will be able to encourage new people to add their comments. The result over time should be that I no longer need to field those emails from library workers who need more information before they are allowed to make positive changes in their service to patrons.

Please consider helping me and sharing your work. I know some of you have in the past by sending me an email or even contributing a guest post, but even if you have already done this, consider helping by sharing again, here on this post, in the comments. I know there are many more of you out there who have tried to make your displays more interactive than there are those of you whose hands are tied. Let’s work together to help patrons all over the country.

Finally, if you are an administrator reading this [psst all the rest of my readers, print this out and leave it for your hesitant administrator and yes, I know they can see this comment], stop being afraid of change. If your staff learn something new in a program, whether I was the presenter or not, let them give it a try. Who cares if it is new or seems unorthodox? If it doesn’t work with your community, oh well, at least you tried. And if the public complains, blame the trainer. I tell people all of the time to blame me when they are forcing staff or even patrons to try something new. I have even gotten calls from Directors who want to confirm what I told their staff members before they let them try it. [This is not an exaggeration, I have had more than 1 of these calls over the years. Fewer than 10 but I haven’t kept count exactly.]

Seriously, stop being so worried about it not working and just let your staff try. I am always shocked at the wonderful new things the people I have trained come up with. Most of it is 100% them. I simply put the concept in their heads and they run with it, taking these inspirations to places I never would have dreamed of. And you know who wins-- your patrons.

I am so proud of all of you. Now help me to help others. I hope to see your comments soon. And thanks in advance.


Anonymous said...


I saw your call for interactive displays on Twitter! The display I did for picture book month in 2017 was great, because it was both educational and playful. The interactive pieces were the doodling paper and markers, the gift box to open, and the mirror.

Here are the pictures: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1SEUuv2WWa05cm0O1hkYuM86wxdSR6zya

Thanks for all you do, and I hope this is of interest to you.

Laura Schmiedicke
Adult Services Coordinator
Monroe [WI] Public Library

a place to gather and grow

Becky said...

Thanks Laura. It is so nice to hear back from places I have visited in the past too. What a great example of how making your displays interactive isn’t all that hard or scary. I love the “take 30 seconds” directions for the doodling too. And what great way to showcase picture books to all ages of readers. Great job.

katharine said...

we've had great success with putting out a whiteboard and some dry erase markers. I did a crossword puzzle, what is your favorite place to visit in Wisconsin (with travel books). I think the next one will be What is your favorite flower? (with gardening books) VERY EASY to do. Sorry don't have pictures :) - Katharine, Adult Services Librarian, McFarland WI