Posted in Displays

Look, Play, Listen: Promoting Media Collections at LPL

With streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, do people still check out DVDs and CDs from libraries? At the Lawrence Public Library we’d argue YES! — but that’s not to say we haven’t noticed a downward trend over the past couple of years.
Despite the prevalence of streaming video services, we continue to see strong patron demand for new titles. The latest seasons of TV shows like Game of Thrones and popular movies like Hidden Figures accumulate holds lists into the triple digits. Just as with other collections, we order several copies to satisfy that demand, then the hype dies, and we’re left with several copies on the shelf.
These multiple copies sit alongside much older titles that no one’s checking out because they’re so focused on the new stuff. Our director has compared it to a dying star — as the collection approaches its end of life, it expands and takes up more space. Space we don’t have. Will we see the death of analog media collections? Perhaps not in my lifetime…but it’s probably coming.
This is where the new team that I’ve been asked to coordinate at LPL comes in. Look, Play, Listen is a cross departmental team that will focus on promoting the media collections to combat declining circulation.
Why cross-departmental? Our Readers’ Services team — the Book Squad — focuses on readers’ advisory and the fiction collection, and the Info Services team provides reference assistance and maintains the non-fiction collection. DVDs and CDs don’t quite fit into their areas of focus, and they don’t have the time to squeeze them in. We also don’t have the staff resources to create a whole new department at this time.

So on the Look, Play, Listen team we have two staff from Readers’ Services, two from Info Services, two from Materials Handling, one from our I.T. department, one from marketing, a collection development librarian, and our teen librarian. Here are a few of the things we are or have been working on:

Organizing DVDs Alphabetically
Because it’s a highly browsed collection, our DVD movies and TV shows have always been organized loosely under the first letter of the title and not in exact alphabetical order. We experimented with trying to maintain alphabetical order, thinking it would increase find-ability for browsers and staff pulling holds. What we didn’t anticipate was the time it took. Shelving returns took longer and the hours spent shelf-reading and reorganizing were wasted by browsers who almost immediately shuffled things around, even with signage saying we were trying to keep things alphabetized. So we dropped the effort, with the exception of our TV shows, because having all seasons of a show together does help.

Writing Reviews
The front page of our Bibliocommons catalog features sliders of recently reviewed items. Before our team was organized, weeks could go by without a new title being reviewed and added to the slider. To make sure we have fresh content up regularly, we organized a rotating calendar of staff reviews. Each team member writes a review for a DVD or CD every two weeks, and with 11 members on the team, we’ve got a new review on the slider almost every day of the week. We’ve definitely seen some holds on those reviewed items!

Staff Picks Display
We recently set up a new display of staff DVD picks, borrowing the handwritten shelf talkers I’ve seen at several book stores. Just like the bookstores, we featured movies of which we have at least three available copies. I love the personal touch the notes give to the recommendations. And the DVDs are flying off of it! Info Services staff passed along a comment from a patron who said she always has a hard time deciding what to watch next and thanked us for putting the display up.

Formed Based Watchers’/Listeners’ Advisory
Our next project will be putting together a form like our Readers’ Services team’s personalized reading suggestions request. Basically, patrons can fill out this form and we’ll send them a list of DVD or CD recommendations within 48 hours or so. Readers’ Services has had a good response to their form, so I’m looking forward to seeing how patrons respond to this one.

We just started the Look, Play, Listen effort in June, so it’s a little early to see how these things are affecting our circulation (especially since there’s always a slight uptick over the summer). Other things the team has discussed include “If you like…” posters for the endcaps of our media shelving, discussion groups, and a media themed podcast. I’m looking forward to seeing where else the team goes with this!

Posted in Adult Programs, Displays

Poetry & Arts in April at the Library

If you’ve read past blog posts, you’ll know that I’m a fan of poetry and that April is National Poetry Month. I try to do at least one thing related to poetry at the library, even if it’s a simple display featuring titles from our poetry collection.

In the past, I’ve gone all out and used mannequins for Poetry In Your Pocket Day, featured favorite poets from staff and let a poetry slamming gorilla loose in the library. This year, I kept the display simple, using a word cloud with poetry related words and phrases.

Borrowing an idea from my days at the Lawrence Public Library, I decided to set up a “Poetry Nook” in the entryway of the library. I’ve provided pens and paper, and am encouraging patrons to write a poem and put it in the box. The poems, then, will end up in random places around town – in a library book, in a booth at the local coffee shop, etc.

My major poetry event will be for teens. Members of our Teen Advisory Board requested we do a Poetry Slam again this year. For some reason, whenever I plan one of these, I have to include a bag of frozen burritos as one of the prizes. That bag of frozen goodness is always the most coveted prize – even over a $50 gift card!

Our Youth Librarian also has gotten into the spirit of National Poetry Month and has put together a fun Poetry “Mad Lib” for the children’s area. I’m looking forward to seeing what crazy things the kids come up with!

I was also approached by FACE of Mahaska County, a local arts organization, about planning and cross promoting arts-related programs and events in Oskaloosa for Arts in April. They recently opened an art center in town, and it’s very exciting to see what they’re bringing to this small-ish community. One of the things they’re doing is yarn bombing different locations around the city – including our Reading Garden:

They’ve coordinated with a number of organizations in the community and have put together a calendar of things happening this month. From graffiti installations to a Gallery Hop to one act plays directed by high school students, there’s a lot going on!

Posted in Displays

Put A Bird On It!

My newest display is inspired by my favorite clip from Portlandia, Put A Bird On It! I figured birds would be a nice spring-ish topic, so I pulled pretty much anything that has a bird on the cover.

I thought pulling titles from 598 and 636.6 would be a little too easy, so I also pulled anything from fiction and our movies. Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, of course! I also cut out a few silhouettes to make the display pop a little.

And here’s the inspiration:

Posted in Displays

Books for Dummies

If you dug through my past posts, you’ll know that another part of my job I enjoy is putting together displays. Displays are a perfect way to promote items in the library’s collection that may not get attention otherwise. This week, I decided to feature our “for Dummies” books!

At my previous library, we had four spaces for displays and they were left up about a month. We had to sticker all the books we pulled for the display and change each item’s shelving status so people would know where they were – this was a lot of work. Here, I typically change out displays every two weeks or so. With a display like this, I can just wander through the stacks, pull titles, and have a display up in minutes.

Right now, we have a table at the top of the stairs that’s the first thing you see on the second floor. I’m working on getting a shelving unit put there instead, though, because I like the face out display a little better.  However, the “Books for Dummies” display has only been up for a couple of hours, and I’ve already over heard a couple of comments on it. I’m glad it’s catching patrons’ attention!

Posted in Displays

Read Cool, Keep Cool

Saturdays are usually pretty slow at the reference desk, so today I decided to take some of that downtime and swap out one of the displays. Kansas – and much of the nation – has been experiencing a heat wave this week, with temperatures in the triple digits, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a relief in the near future. Thus, I came up with the theme Read Cool, Keep Cool:

Reading takes you to different places, right? I thought people would respond well to the idea of keeping their minds off the heat by reading fiction that takes place in cold climates. I pulled general fiction, mysteries and even science fiction set in places like Alaska and Antarctica, or during winter months.

I have a few titles lined up already for summer reading, but I’m thinking I might have to amend my list and check one of these out myself. What’s your favorite cold weather read?

Posted in Displays

Creating Spaces in the Stacks

If you work in a library that serves a relatively large community, you’ll know that to satisfy the needs of your patrons when it comes to best sellers and ensure no one has to wait months and months for a copy, collection development librarians will purchase multiple copies. In my particular library, they generally order one copy for every five holds that’s placed on the title while under the ON ORDER status in the catalog. For example, as I’m writing this post, I notice there are 105 holds on that steamy best seller, 50 Shades of Grey, and we own 27 copies, plus we have 7 more on order. That’s a lot of grey! As long as all those titles are checked out, there’s pretty much no issue, right?

When popularity on titles decline and weeding duties fall behind, though, shelves can become pretty crammed with these previous best sellers and popular books. At my library, there are only one or two people assigned to weed the fiction stacks, and that responsibility is just one of many of theirs, so our stacks are pretty tight. Our temporary solution to the problem: a “Best Sellers You May Have Missed” display!

Knowing we had done something like this before, our assistant director actually came to my supervisor and suggested we free up some room on our shelves by putting it up again. Not needing to write up a list and get too creative with a sign, my colleagues and I were able to quickly put up this display in place of our Mother’s Day feature.

Usually our displays are just one or two titles face out on each shelf, but my supervisor wanted me to cram as many books on the shelves as possible. Another colleague commented and said it really lent toward a cozy bookstore feeling. Besides weeding, what are some other ways librarians can create space in the stacks?

Posted in Displays

The Game of Life: A Display

Ah. May. Springtime. Students – both high school and college alike – are looking forward to an ever approaching end to the spring semester and the school year. Seniors, hopefully already gotten started thinking about their futures months beforehand, are now anticipating a new step in their lives, whether it’s higher education or starting the job search. I think this time of the year also instigates thoughts of finding love, starting families, and searching for homes. This was the inspiration for the display I finished setting up this morning: “The Game of Life.”

Using the imagery from the Hasbro board game, I made a sign using black and white foam core and printed the L-I-F-E using our color printer. The display features nonfiction titles on searching and applying for college, job hunting and resume and cover letter writing, buying or renting properties, and raising children. A couple months ago one of my coworkers set up a hobbies display and used little icons to represent different ones like woodworking, music, knitting, etc. Stealing – or as we librarians like to say – borrowing her idea, I used Microsoft Publisher to create “LIFE” cards to represent each of the subject areas and mounted them on black foam core.

If I had the resources and time to do so, I would have tried crafting either a spinner or a car with a couple of the blue and pink little people in it. However, with the limited space on the shelf, that may have just crowded it even more than it already is. If I did have more room, I probably would have added subjects on relationships and marriage, purchasing insurance, winning the lottery and retirement! I had a ton of fun creating this display and seeing it come to life (pun intended xD), and I look forward to seeing how well it goes over with patrons!

Posted in Displays

Fiction o’ the Irish

My major project for the day was yet another display, this time featuring Irish fiction! Now, I kept it pretty simple, printing an Irish landscape for the sign and mounting it on foam core. I also cut out some paper shamrocks and stuck them on the shelves in order to catch the eye a little more effectively. I realize I didn’t stray too far out of the box with this idea, as it’s basically celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but I still had a bit of fun with it.



I’m no expert on Irish fiction, so I simply did a subject search in our catalog for “Irish fiction” and pulled anything that didn’t look too dated. While I was in the process of putting the display up, a patron approached and expressed delight. She then proceeded to tell me that the master of Irish fiction is William Trevor, who, she said, is pretty much the forefather to all the other authors I had included. I’ve never read his work, so I couldn’t disagree or disagree, but I thanked her for her input. I was just happy that my display was already attracting some attention.

I have to admit, though, I’m looking much more forward to my next display, celebrating National Poetry Month and promoting the series of poetry events that I’ve been planning for April. My head’s brimming with ideas!