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Monday, January 13, 2020

Reading Resolutions Guest Post: Lila Denning

When I posted my Reading Resolutions last week, I also asked for any of you out their to share yours. Today and tomorrow I will be featuring two librarians who heeded the call.

First up is Lila Denning. Denning is the Acquisitions Coordinator for the St. Petersburg Library System in St Petersburg, FL, which includes collection development, collection maintenance, and cataloging.  Her library experience includes circulation, reference, youth services, outreach, and programming. Lila also worked for both Barnes and Noble and Borders. She is currently a member of the RUSA CODES Research and Trends Committee.

Denning is an expert on displays in libraries. She has presented on the topic at conferences and Tweets about it regularly

Denning also mentions a live training I will be doing in FL next month. I you can join us, the link is below.

Thank you Denning for sharing your resolutions with all of us.

Reading Resolutions : Passive Readers Advisory Edition 
by Lila Denning

In the spirit of the resolutions already posted by Becky, I thought I would offer some related to book displays and other forms of passive readers advisory. I have been thinking more about the importance of passive readers advisory as I prepare to participate in the Horror Writers of America’s Librarians Day in May. Horror is a genre that will circulate if put in front of your patrons. There are things about book displays and passive RA in general that should be kept in mind as we start 2020.

While it may feel differently on a busy day, we don’t talk to most of the people who come into our buildings. The only chance we may have to help them find the right item for that moment is through passive forms of readers advisory.  Signage, book displays, bookmarks, and digital lists can be used to showcase your collection or highlight materials by theme, genre, author, or subject matter. 
For more information on readers advisory, I would suggest Florida library workers attend the Readers Advisory for All face-to-face training session hosted by TBLC at the Bruton Memorial Library in February, 2020.

2020 Resolution: Stop apologizing for not making book displays that are fancy. My book displays generally have a sign with the theme or subject of the display and piles of materials. I don’t dress them up with accessories or make themed bulletin boards to accompany them. They are more utilitarian usually only decorated with bookmarks about library databases and programs. I don’t plan them out to make a splash on social media (although I do post images of them). That is because I use them for readers advisory and to market the collection. It’s the library materials that are the focus and making the display as inviting as possible for patrons to look at items and check them out.  Displays for enclosed glass cases or in school libraries serve a different purpose. The displays that I create and encourage are to help people find something that they did not expect. You may not have time to dress up a display but gathering a selection of materials and making a simple sign in Word is achievable.
2020 Resolution: Always remember to consider EDI in all displays.
I put up displays for various months and memorial days but every display of materials should include titles by a variety of authors who represent the depth and breadth of both our communities and the greater world. Books by authors of colors and own voices titles should be included throughout the year. When you are developing lists of books for flyers, bookmarks, or digital lists, double check them to make certain that you have been inclusive. Gathering titles for a display with EDI in mind is another way of spot-checking your collection. If you are putting up a winter romance display and have no books by diverse authors, that is something that needs to be brought to the attention of your collection development team.

2020 Resolution: Blending genres and item types is here to stay
. Focusing on one subgenre should be part of passive readers advisory. I did a display on folk horror after Midsommar received a lot of attention. I have created lists of police procedurals and romances with shapeshifters. In general, however, I try to mix it up so a display about historical fiction will also include romance, horror, and mysteries. A list of books about prohibition will include fiction and DVD options. When it comes to genres like horror – mix those titles in with psychological suspense and thrillers. There are a lot of books that will appeal to people who say they don’t read horror. One display I did was “Not So Home Sweet Home” which mixed horror titles about haunted houses with family dramas and suspense novels about bad marriages. Use displays to help people find books they could love but would pass over. Don’t place limits where they don’t need to be, especially when it comes to displays. Put fiction displays in the non-fiction stacks and bring youth materials outside that department.

2020 Resolution: You can have fun with readers advisory. 
As anyone who has attended a Readers Advisory for All training session can attest, readers advisory is fun. It’s a joy to help people find the book, movie, or music they need. You often receive immediate, positive feedback. This is especially true when they didn’t know they were looking for it. Have fun with displays! Have staff who are passionate about a topic or subgenre gather up materials put it on a display. Indulge in puns and bad jokes (November Rain display with books with guns and/or roses on the cover in a favorite here.) Promote celebration days like National Alien Abduction Day or National Toilet Day. Besides bringing levity to your library, they are often an easy way to group materials from all over your collection.  Use hashtags from social media, internet memes, or jokes from tv and movies to inspire you. 

2020 Resolution: Don’t limit yourself to matching themes with the calendar. 
I live fifteen minutes from the beach and can guarantee you that in the summer, people love to read suspense and horror while they sun themselves. Horror will circulate when it’s not October. One of the sessions at HWA’s Librarians Day will cover the Summer Scares Reading Program. If you can, attend the stand-alone Librarians Day on May 7, 2020, at the Naperville, Illinois, Public Library to get ideas from other librarians and authors on how you can promote horror in your library.

2020 Resolution: Archive your successful ideas. 
I keep my signs in a folder on my computer so I can reuse them. I used to be better about keeping a list of titles, grouped by theme, so that I could fill in a display quickly when needed. When I create a bookmark around a particular genre or subject, I save it to be quickly updated with new titles when needed. Don’t think that every month needs a never-before-seen idea. Be kind to your future self. It can also be put somewhere on your network where anyone on staff can find ideas. Personally, I am going to try to create an online archive of my displays on a blog so that I can easily share ideas when asked. 

These are five ideas to help you create better book displays in the upcoming year. You can find my latest displays on Twitter @vantine. 

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