Rummanah Aasi

 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!
8 Responses
  1. What a cool idea. I wish my library did something like this. I bet your teen readers love this.

  2. I've always loved this idea. One day I hope my library does this. :D

  3. I'm doing this right now. I was going to stop this week, but it's been so popular that I'm going to extend it a week. I've had to add more books 3 or 4 times. I wrapped in newspaper and just put 3 or 4 words on an index card. All your tips are great. I wrote the last 6 digits of the barcode on the index card (my first digits are always the same.) What's interesting is that some kids that never check out books, or very rarely, couldn't resist these books. Some are on their second book. And some of my avid readers wouldn't do this for anything (they have plans to read certain books, I think.) Only a couple of books have been unwrapped and returned immediately -- and that's OK. The others are at least being kept for a while, and hopefully sometimes getting read. My teachers and administration love the idea. (even though I keep telling them I didn't come up with it, I'm getting lots of praise.) I even had a teacher check one out for the three-day weekend. Great post!

  4. Kindlemom Says:

    Oh I love this! How fun and thanks so much for all the ideas!

  5. Aylee Says:

    omg Rummanah!!!! Oh how I wish you were my librarian!! (the ladies at my library are all very nice though - they also did a blind date idea this year, though not nearly as creatively as you). Seriously, your display is SO perfect and your blurbs too. If I was one of your library's high school students, I would totally be into seeing this same kind of "don't judge a book" idea done with banned books!

  6. This is such a cool idea, Rummanah! If my library had done this when I was a kid, I would have checked out some books that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise.

  7. Very clever. I am so going to do this. Have you ever had kids come back for more than one blind date book? Have you ever had kids who recommended their blind date book for friends to read? Do you book talk these books or just leave them for students to discover? How long do you leave up the display? Change the books if they aren't moving? Fun. Thanks for sharing.

  8. @Heidi: They do, although I hear lots of snickering with the Blind Date part of the display title.

    @Melissa: I hope so too! It's a lot of work but I think it has huge pay offs.

    @Annette: Funny, both of my avid and non-readers are drawn to the display alike.

    @Kindlemom: Thank you!

    @Aylee: Aw, thanks! I think the banned book theme would bring even more intrigue about the book. Maybe instead of descriptive words I would include reasons why people don't want you to read the book. Hmm..I'll have to think on that.

    @A Canadian Girl: Thanks, Z! Yes, I think I would have a similar experience. I know for sure I wouldn't have read certain books if it wasn't required for class or brought to my attention.

    @Anne: Yes, I've had several kids who check out more than 1 blind date. I hear teens recommending books to each other all the time, but I do hear them talking about the display to one another. I let the description of the books do the talking. It's a very passive program which is what I like and it makes the student a more active participant in discovering and finding their book. Currently, half of the books are checked out so I decided to keep the display up until the end of the month. Once in a while I will move the books around, but I don't take them out of the display.

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