In addition to the working on library duties such as teaching information literacy skills, ordering and cataloging books for my library's collection all of which I enjoy, I also get to embrace my creativity skills and demonstrate my love for reading by creating book displays in the library. My most successful book display so far has been Blind Date with a Book.
The Blind Date with a Book concept is not something I made up on my own. I have seen it done at other libraries and even bookstores, but I wanted to do this display to encourage readers and non-readers alike to pick up a book and read for fun. The objective of the book display is to get readers to think beyond the book cover and give a book a chance. You can create this display at any time of the year, but I usually do it in the month of February for Valentines Day. I thought it would be a good idea to a blog post on some tips on how to this display in case anyone else wants to do it at their school, library, or even as a blogging event (i.e. blog hop/giveaway). So let's get started!
- Give yourself plenty of prep time when you are creating this display. I usually start thinking about what books I want to highlight around the last two weeks of January.
- Browse your shelves for books that you feel have appeal to your readers (in my case, students) that might get overlooked because of the cover, boring book blurb, format (i.e. paperbacks vs. hardcovers, graphic novels, short stories, nonfiction), etc.
- Get a variety of book genres for this display. Remember your objective is to broaden your reader's taste. For my display, I had books from these popular book genres: realistic fiction, romance, fantasy, dystopian, science fiction, mystery, paranormal/supernatural.
- Do not use popular books or books by popular authors because they don't need help circulating. Do use readalikes for popular books to help guide you which books to use for this display. Remember your goal is to put less circulated items in front of your readers.
- Decide whether or not you want to write a "dating profile" for each book or put keywords of the book description.
- If you decide to write a profile: keep it pithy and eye catching without giving the plot of the book away. I found my students drifted toward short yet teasing profiles. The most checked out blind date book was Blackbird by Anna Carey because of its profile. Here is what I wrote: You wake up on the train tracks in L.A. with no memory of who you are. A backpack is at your feet. Inside is a fresh set of clothes, one thousand dollars in cash, a phone number, and the instructions: Do not call the police. Who are you? How did you get here? What does that tattoo on your wrist of a blackbird and the code FNV02198 mean? Why are people trying to kill you?
- If you decide to do bullet points or words: keep it simple without giving the plot away. Here is an example of what I did with I am the Weapon aka Boy Nobody by Alex Zadoff:
- As you can see with the sample above, I focused on the main character's characteristics as well as the book's pace, topics. Use book reviews, the shelf labels from readers on Goodreads, or a library's database called Novelist to come up with your keywords and/or your profiles.
- Decide how you want to wrap your books. Do you want to make a sleeve for your book and just wrap the book cover or do you want to wrap the entire book like a present? What colors would you use? Last year, my coworkers and I created sleeves for the books which looked nice on our display case, but once students unveiled their "dates" most of them were bored and turned their books in right away. I wanted to keep the mystery a little longer and decided to wrap the entire book this year. I also wanted a neutral color so that boys would not be embarrassed looking at the display and carrying around their books. There are a variety of different styles of Blind Date book covers that I found on Pintrest, but after discussing it with my coworkers, we decided to use the Aussie bookstore, Blind Date with a Book, as our inspiration board to create our books. We ordered brown butcher paper type roll, festive baker's twine to give it some color, and tags from Amazon.
- Lastly, decide how you are going to check the book out to your patrons. Some libraries write down the entire barcode on the back of their dates. Others cut out the paper so the barcode shows. I didn't like either option so I took the long route and photocopied the barcodes of the books, making sure they scanned in our library software. Then I cut out the barcodes and pasted them on the back of the book. Though it took a few more minutes for me, we are able to check the books out right away!
- You might want to consider adding an incentive to the display. We are doing a raffle for a prize to every student who reads a blind date (1 entry per student). The prize hasn't been decided yet but we are thinking of doing a gift card to a local eatery.
- As for marketing: we created signs about the display around the school and also put in the school announcements. Honestly, I think your display will speak for itself especially if you place it in an area that gets a lot of foot traffic such as near the copier/printer. I've gotten several glowing complements on the display both from students and staff. :)
|The Final Product|
Things I might consider next year:
- Creating a bookmark inside the blind dates and that ask students to rank their reading experience.
- Find teen appealing nonfiction titles for the display
- Create a similar display for staff that would include eAudiobooks, eBooks, and print books.
- Do a Blind Date with a Book Banned Book edition for Banned Books Week.
Have you created a Blind Date with a Book Display? If so, what other tips and tricks would you include in this post? Do you have any questions that I didn't address in this post? Let me know in the comments!