Thursday, May 5, 2022

Display Resource Alert: Reading Lists Archives from Electric Literature With a Dose of "Displays" Real Talk

Today I have a few general thoughts and reminders about displays and then a resource.

First, since it has come up in conversation a handful of times in the last few days, with different people, displays do not need to be large or fancy. A "display" is simply some books, pulled out of the larger stacks, and featured in some way.

You do not need furniture specific to a display or any decorations. You. Just. Need. Books. More than 1 would be great, so people have a choice, but otherwise, that is it. Just find a space to cluster them together, face-out.

For a more in depth discussion of my thoughts on this, see this 2019 post, "Call to Action: All You Need for a Displays is Books."

Second, a "display" is not just a physical cluster of books either. "Display" refers to any books you pull out of the stacks to feature physically or with an online list or even just reposting a list [by you or someone else] on social media. All of these are displays. If you are featuring titles in any way, in the building or online, that is a "display." Stop being so literal and tied to a piece of furniture when you think about displaying books. 

Third, you should be focusing all of your "displays" and merchandising on the books people would not find on their own. Don't waste your time putting popular books on display. Those books don't need your help. Displays are to highlight books patrons would not find on their own. And to that end, ignore newer books. The backlist is where you can find great titles that are lurking in the stacks, languishing without readers.

I have this much longer and more nuanced post on the topic as well.

Fourth, and this is where the resource finally comes into play, think outside the box for what you will display. You can do very general topics that are easy to fill with a wide range of books, such as "Thrills and Chills" or "Exciting Reads"  or even just "Good Reads." These topics allow you to include books from so many genres in one display. 

That works for larger display furniture or places with high traffic where you want to get the attention of the widest swath of readers and you will need to refill often. But what about just an endcap or even just a shelf that if only half fill somewhere n the stacks. These are a wonderful place to surprise readers with interesting displays, things they would never expect.

For these ideas I like to use resources, places that regularly make 5-10 book lists on a topic such as "7 Books That Will Change the Way You Think About the Road Trip Story" or "7 Novels About Black Women Returning Home in Search of Meaning and Connection." Things we would not have the tome to really think about, but using resources, we can identify interesting ideas and pull a few books. These examples come from the Electric Literature Reading List Archive. And you can scroll way back for ideas because they are evergreen. Usually they are spurred on by a popular new release or a current event, but the ideas and the books  work anytime. 

I also really like the regular lists by The Millions and Book Riot, or the many options recapped weekdays by Book Pulse. All of these service the same purpose.

When we make these smaller displays or share these lists online, we can just print out a headline to go with it. And please, cite where you found the idea, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because we need to remind our patrons that we use resources, that using resources is our superpower and we are always here to use them to help our patrons.

The point of today's post is that we should all make our goal to have more displays, both virtual lists and in person options. We should have more varied topics, each with fewer books, so as to both draw attention to a wider sphere of options and give us more chances to highlight the breadth of our collections. And if we focus on the backlist, we have more titles than we could ever need. The results: more engagement with your collection both in interest in your ever changing displays featuring titles patrons would never have sought out on their own [but since you are using other resources to identify topics, not extra work for you] and in increased checkouts.

I have many display ideas here on the blog and I try to keep them more of this outside the box variety. Click on the the displays tag for more ideas. Or, even better, use those links I provided above.

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