One of the most magical characteristics of a library is the stories it contains. Stories are everywhere, from the books on the shelves to the event flyers in the vestibule. Every element of a library should strive to tell a story. If a library is very fortunate, then it gets an über-creative employee who constantly designs striking displays that start conversations.

Our library is “win-the-lottery-lucky” in that we have several imaginative, creative people on staff. One employee in particular (henceforth referred to as “Craft-Ninja” to protect the extremely talented) is in charge of designing the bulletin boards in our library, and she also maintains a dry erase board in our foyer. The dry erase board highlights important upcoming events or displays a meaningful, literary quote. Through Craft-Ninja’s artistic touches, she has captured the patrons’ attention within their first few steps into the library. The board’s content often serves as a conversation starter, an interaction with a patron who may have come into the library just to use the computer or pick up some DVDs and who would not have engaged an employee otherwise.
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Within the library, there are two main bulletin boards, each one above the new book displays across from the circulation desk. Craft-Ninja pores over Pinterest and other websites to get inspiration for these displays. She usually looks for a central theme that will work for a season, such as Spring, but that she can tweak every few weeks to stay current.
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This board, for instance, started out with leaves above the book pages that spelled out “Give Thanks”. After Thanksgiving, she switched out the leaves for the “Peace, Love, Books” images and added ornaments cut out of colored paper with similar ribbon details. After Christmas, she removed the ornaments. In a week or two, she will switch over to something that will work for Valentine’s Day, Love Your Library Month, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter.
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This board was just a fun idea she wanted to do to involve the whole staff. It got a lot of laughs!
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In the children’s area, there is an L-shaped bulletin board that is sub-divided into several smaller areas. Craft-Ninja coordinates with the Children’s programming person for inspiration, and then employs the same idea of a central seasonal theme that can be tweaked every few weeks. Kids and parents alike have loved seeing Olaf and Frosty encourage a love of reading! Speaking of Olaf –
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This re-creation of Olaf, made from books pulled from the Friends of the Library book sale donations, has brought a smile to the face of almost every patron walking through the door! He replaced a Christmas tree made from books that sat on the circulation desk in late November and December, another creation that started a lot of conversations.

Working with Craft-Ninja has taught me a few things I want to share with you:

1) Originality is not as important as the ability to follow through. Each display does not need to be a wholly new idea, as long as it is done well and engages its audience.
2) Think long term. A St. Patrick’s bulletin board would be a lot of fun, but how long is it actually relevant? Choosing seasonal inspiration like bunnies or ducks that can be tweaked by adding hearts, shamrocks, or Easter eggs is a lot more versatile and a lot less work.
3) Think outside of the box. Blend different, unusual elements. Think how you can re-purpose something in a unique way. Don’t be afraid to go three-dimensional with a bulletin board or wall display.
4) Use your space! We took an under-utilized corner of the circulation desk and added three-dimensional book displays that have created amazing buzz.

Now go forth and create! Next month’s blog will be about using book displays effectively, so I’ll see you then!


  1. Lots of great ideas! I especially like the re-creation of Olaf–so adorable and clever! Reading your post makes me wish I worked in a public library. I work in a hospital library and our patrons tend to prefer our online resources and don’t often visit the library. But maybe I will try some displays geared toward our patient family members and other staff (who don’t do medical research)–they may appreicate it and bring more traffic to our little library. Thanks for the inspiration!

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