Tag Archives: displays

Visual Merchandising – Applying Bookstore Insights to Public Library Collections

Book display for Inspirational women

Check out this article from the Public Libraries journal, by Allison Marie Fiscus.  About the Author: Allison Marie Fiscus is Manager of the Maumee Branch at Toledo Lucas County (OH) Public Library. Contact Allison at allison.fiscus@toledolibrary.org.

What if I told you that the more intricate and thought out a book display, the less likely it is that a customer will actually touch a book on it, let alone check one out? What if I said that at best an overly constructed book display discourages circulation and at worst contributes to its decline? Counterintuitive though it may be, it’s the truth.

Bookstores figured this out long ago. It’s one of the main reasons that in a world populated by Amazon shoppers they have stayed in business. Conversely, public libraries nationwide have seen their circulation drop steadily as new ways of consuming text come into popularity.1

Why is it that we struggle to give away materials for free while Barnes and Noble keeps their people coming back to give them more of their hard-earned dollars?

The answer is visual merchandising. It’s not just a tool for retail establishments. As a veteran of the bookstore industry I’ve seen it in action, and I’m here to tell my fellow librarians that we can learn from what they’ve spent millions of dollars to research and implement.

Keep It Simple

Don’t spend excessive amounts of time carefully creating a display based on a topical theme. Instead, curate displays based on a very general idea or genre. Mystery titles, biographies, juvenile fiction, holidays, cooking—pick your prettiest book covers or the titles you have in largest quantity and display them simply and prominently (more on this in a moment). These displays will be easy to refill and can be used to help struggling books circulate purely by being out in the open. And make no mistake; being able to refill your displays quickly is key. A full display is an inviting display and these books will go.

New Books Are “New” to Your Patrons Far Longer Than They Are to You

Dedicate a large space to prominently displaying new books with their covers facing out. If possible, keep books in this “new” section for at least twelve months. Consider this: per capita, U.S. library users visit a library less than five times a year.2 With that in mind, highlighting books as new for twelve months makes perfect sense and arguably is still not a sufficient amount of time for your customers to fully grasp what you have to offer. Make it easy on them to find new titles and they will reward your efforts with circs.

Take the Time to Study How Your Customers Move Through Your Library

Find an hour every day for a week and sketch a heat map of where your customers travel upon entering your building. The results may very well surprise you and will definitely help you to better understand where displays should be placed to support interaction. It’s easy to look at your library and see where you can fit a display, but if the majority of your customers are coming through the door, walking directly to the hold shelf/computers/quiet study, and back out the front door again, they aren’t seeing your display on the slat wall behind your fiction stacks. Put the books where the customers already are. Once you get their attention their user habits very well may change, at which point you can push displays into new and deeper areas of your space.

Get Creative (With Your Furniture)!

Extra table lying around? Display space! Short shelving units? Display space! Unused atlas stand? Display space! Before you commit to spending gobs of hard-won funding on new furniture and shelving to support your displays, take a hard look at what you have and what can be tastefully repurposed. Shift collections to different areas and don’t give valuable shelving real estate to collections that will circulate anyways. However, avoid using temporary furniture such as folding tables for display. Sadly, these look sloppy no matter how much work you put into making them presentable.

(Read the rest of this article here!! Get some great ideas for your own displays – and share photos with us!!)

Day Forty Eight of the CMLE Summer Fun Library Tour!

(From Book Bub Blog, by )

26 More Images That Prove Librarians Are the Cleverest People Ever

“We all know that librarians are the best, and we can’t get enough of the funny library displays they create to keep patrons entertained — and never without a great book! We’ve rounded up even more fantastic library displays that prove once and for all that librarians are the most hilarious people around. Check out the images below, and we guarantee you’ll be running to visit your local library in no time.”

(CMLE note: We are posting in a few of their images; definitely check out this article to see all the very funny material there!)

Is this spooky cart haunted by the ghosts of overdue books?


A smart librarian knows there is always room for one more book.


This display will have you running for the stacks.

ALA Recap: Libraries are Not Neutral Spaces

School Library Journal Logo

from School Library Journal, by

“This past Sunday I had the honor of presenting with a panel of fabulous librarians about how libraries are NOT neutral spaces. Like most librarians, I spent a major part of my career proclaiming that we were. But over time, I have come to realize that we are, in fact, not. For example, if during the month of December you put up a Christmas tree or a Christmas display but don’t acknowledge that any other holidays exist, you are making a non-neutral statement and highlighting certain faiths and traditions over others. Did you choose to avoid putting up a Black Lives Matter display? That was not a neutral decision. This month is Pride, did you put up a Pride display? Whether you answer yes or no to this question, your answer is not a neutral decision. Every decision to do or not do something in our libraries is not a neutral decision, and it often reflects our own personal, cultural or institutional biases.

It has been a process for me to learn how to examine and break down my personal biases in considering everything I do in my library, from putting up a display to deciding when, where, and how to program. The work of being inclusive and advocating for my teen patrons – ALL of my teen patrons – is ongoing and never done. It takes some intentionality on my part and I am working on training my staff to have that same type of intentionality.

In fact, for me, displays and collections are a big part of how I try and be intentional and inclusive. I didn’t have a term for it until this weekend thanks to someone on Twitter, but I regularly perform diversity audits of my YA collection. I will sit down monthly with some type of topic or focus in mind and go through my collection to make sure I have a well represented number of titles and authors that represent that topic. For example, with Pride approaching, I spent the month of April going through every single letter in GLBTQAI+ to make sure that I had a good representation of titles for each letter in my collection. And when doing so I go through and make sure that they include as many POC, LatinX, Native American, Asian and more authors as possible. I don’t want to just be diverse in having GLBTQAI+ titles, I want to make sure that those titles are as diverse and representative as possible. Continue reading ALA Recap: Libraries are Not Neutral Spaces