Friday, June 7, 2013

Getting Creative for Summer

I don't know about your library, but mine is in full swing for the summer.  This means lots of kids and lots of books! Before summer started, however, my manager had a vision and a plan.  The goal: to make picture books more accessible to children while relieving the stress on our backs from shelving the piles of books that come in.  The idea of no longer shelving books on the bottom shelf and using it for display may seem a bit out of the ordinary but, after a month of displaying materials in this manner, I can say it was one of the smartest moves we've made.

You'll find in most libraries that the shelves used for picture books are short, usually allowing for a height of three shelves.  In the libraries I've visited, the standard has always been to use all three shelves for the books and using the table-like top to display anything from popular series to seasonal favorites.  Displaying items like this had always been the norm to me, but after giving it some thought and a long discussion with my manager, it became obvious why these displays may not work.
  • Kids Are Short - The shelves for our picture books are designed to be a certain height for a reason - kids are short. Displays on the top appeal to parents only, which is okay, but you are missing your target audience.
  • Clutterful - A display here or a display there may be nice for the parents, but a never ending sea of books on the top can make you feel like you are drowning.
But, fear not, for I am not asking you to expose the top of your picture book shelves - at least not all the way.  You may consider a more planned, thematic display of your picture books instead as featured
here.  But, as I said before, the top only markets to the adults and those that can see above the shelves.  So, what about the younger kids?

Books on the bottom shelf are the last to be pulled as Paco Underhill will tell you that the prime real estate is eye level.  For kids at the picture book age, that's the first and second shelf.  Now with the bottom row free, we realized we could avoid the never ending problem of constant upward shifting by using this space as "kids only" display.  The difference in aesthetics from the top two shelves to the bottom shelf draws the eyes of both adults and kids alike to the bottom shelf.  

One of the biggest perks that came from this change was not having to shelve on the bottom shelf.  No more crawling around on the floor for my branch!  If not for any other reason, I highly recommend using this shelving and display method just as a means to get off the floor and save your back.

No comments: