When students enter through the front library doors the first thing they encounter is our study hall desk and a book display podium. This book display is strategically placed here to entice students into grabbing a new novel, but I had never really truly thought about how useful this display location could be. Each day hundreds of students walk by, some of them take a book, and some keep on walking. My thought became, “How might I increase the circulations making better use of this prime location?”
Monthly Themes Revisited
Every month I would mark my calendar to change the book display to some sort of seasonal theme. It was a cute way to promote a topic, and I didn’t give it much more than an hour a month of my time. In the past I had noticed how some displays had a lot of circulation, while others were hardly touched at all. If the theme was not a hit, then it sat out for a whole month wasting space that might have attracted a reader if it was something different. Thinking about this a little deeper I came up with a plan to spend more time on this first impression location and change the display weekly. The commitment to change weekly was not easy at first, but as the first month of this trial progressed, planning became key and it became easier with outstanding results.
Making Use of Prime Locations
To really get the most out of this display location I tried to be purposeful about the mix of fiction and nonfiction themes I was planning.
- March Book Madness (week 1)
- Poetry Month Reads (week 2)
- Earth Friendly Reads (week 3)
- Rainy Day Reads (week 4)
I found it was extremely helpful to plan out the month all at once instead of thinking it up each week. As I first thought about the project I was thinking it would be easy to print signs and pull books each week. After the first week I learned that with limited time to add this extra task into my schedule I needed to be strategic about planning. Also, after the first week, I learned it was a time saver to print all of the signage ahead when I had the availability to do it, instead of waiting.
Prime Locations, Prime Results
After the month was over my first step was to run a collection statistics historical report to see if circulation had improved overall from March to April. When comparing results I was extremely happy to see a large increase. Circulation increased by 45% over the course of the month. I will continue to monitor the circulation statistics to gather more data set points over time, but for now I am very happy with the positive results.
Taking Full Advantage
With the school year drawing to a close, I plan on taking full advantage of this prime display location next year. Students’ interests are as diverse as our own. It only makes sense that libraries should take the opportunity to highlight diverse topics within each month, not just one theme monthly. I also envision this book display area being a place of student ownership in the library as well. Students could request themes or topics of interest they would like to see displays about, in contrast to me just picking what I think is best. Book displays can be prime locations for catching the eye of students and connecting them with their next great book.
Author: Elizabeth Pelayo
Elizabeth Pelayo is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the AASL AAUP Book Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the nominations committee for the ISLMA Abraham Lincoln Book Award.