Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The New England Library Association Conference 2021 has Diversity Day today. I have the pleasure of presenting with Andria L. Amaral of the Charleston County Public Library and Paula Willey of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Our session is titled Promoting Inclusion and Empathy with Passive Programming. Their book, The Passive Programming Playbook: 101 Ways to Get Library Customers off the Sidelines, is a great addition to anyone's professional collection and is especially relevant today. 

The slideshow is below in case you missed it. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

StokerCon 2021 Librarians Day post

As part of the Horror Writers of America's StokerCon Librarian's Day, I am moderating a panel on promoting horror in libraries. I have posted some of the displays I have done which include horror. Don't forget that you can include horror titles in almost any book display. 

Don't get stuck in the box of only promoting horror in October. Don't strictly segregate genres because your patrons don't care as much as you think they do. (One huge exception is romance readers - romance has a happier ever after ending.)

One final tip is this- book displays in libraries are not a school project. The objective is to get materials into the hands of your patrons. Be broad with genre and theme. You don't have to be exacting as far as which titles you include as long as it's not a genre or subgenre specific display. Even then, I use the broadest possible definition. 

Get Possessed By a Book
This display was easy to fit horror into. It's "Get Possessed by a Book". Include non-fiction titles and some movies. I included titles that were not horror because people will stop for an intriguing cover or a book they have read. This display included graphic novels, audiobooks, non-fiction and dark fantasy in addition to horror. 
Goosebumps - Always popular with kids, especially reluctant readers. While this was an October display, I would put it up during summer reading. It empties out very quickly. 

This display was "What to read next if you love Stephen King." King is always popular in my library and people did stop to pick up other titles because of the display. It would be a great theme to showcase some diverse authors who have written books that you can tie to King's bestsellers. 
Unhappy Families is a great theme to for horror. Mix up the genres because people who read psychological suspense will often read horror. 
HP LovecraftNational Alien Abduction Day is one of those holidays made for book displays. Include some cosmic horror and introduce your patrons to something new. 

HP Lovecraft is another solid theme as long as you remember to include diverse authors and add a variety of cosmic horror titles

World Goth Day - . Include music and DVDs but this is an anytime display that will be fun for patrons and staff.
Scary reads for the beach. People love to read horror in the summer. Guaranteed. "Beach Reads" does not really just mean light and frothy. 

Shapeshift into Fall. This can include romance as well as horror. By using the word shapeshift instead of werewolf, you can draw in people who "don't read horror." An intriguing cover will draw readers to books they might never have discovered. 

When It by Stephen King was released on streaming this was a great opportunity to showcase read alikes.

Creepy Crawlies includes science fiction. There are also some great films you might have in your collection. 

Zombies were a pop culture phenomenon. This is a great anytime book display. 
Genre blended display with witchy books. Include non-fiction and fantasy. 
Horror short stories are extremely popular. I would also drop horror collections into any short story display.

One of the most common readers advisory questions I get is "What do I read after Stephen King or Dean Koontz." This display is my answer. 

Conspiracy theories was as popular as any library worker would expect and lots of horror fits in. 

When Bird Box was on streaming, I set up a readalike book display. Not all of the titles are horror but people stopped because they had at least heard of the show. Let pop culture sensations help you market your collection. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Women in Horror Month!


February is Women in Horror Month. This is a great time to bring your library's horror out for a non-Halloween display. Again, I guarantee you that it will circulate all year. 

Be broad and include non-fiction works like true crime if you need to. You can also grab some psychological suspense as there is a lot of crossover fans. 

On the sign, I included the URL for the official Women in Horror Month website as well as RA for All - Horror, a great resource for any library worker looking to get more information about horror. 

The Horror Writers of America have a great blog with information about diverse authors. Authors' groups are very supportive of libraries and are a wonderful resource. 

Mother Horror - Sadie Hartman is a horror reviewer and part owner of Night Worms Horror Book Box subscription service. Check out her Twitter and Instagram for more ideas. 

Putting out genres like horror in February when your patrons might be expecting something else will draw their attention. There are so many great horror novels written by women. Use this month to celebrate them. 

Don't forget to check out Horror Noire on Shudder, produced by author Tananarive Due

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Getting Ready for February - Black History Month


It's time to start thinking about Black History Month book displays. I will be posting pictures and ideas for the next few days. 

I wanted to share one of the more popular ones I put up. This is devoted to biographies of black chefs and cookbooks by black authors. 

It emptied out the library of all the books on the subject very quickly and I had to pivot to another topic. 

When you are thinking about promoting various history/heritage months, think outside the box. Don't limit yourself. Think about your own city/town/community. Think local history. Think about culture in a broad sense. 

Creating book displays is a good way to inventory your collection. If you can't find books for a display, your library might need to diversify its collection. There are always constraints due to collection development policy and budget but we can add books to represent our entire communities. Promoting them through passive readers advisory like displays, bookmarks, and lists will help your patrons find them. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

 On Politics and Book Displays

My first instinct is to say "don't." It can be difficult and is usually not worth the amount of difficulty that you will face. However, it's totally acceptable to grab subjects from the news and toss up a book display. (Please make certain you know your library's policies and the thoughts of your administration if you have any second thoughts.)

How do you break down a news event into subjects? In 2017, I put up an FBI themed display. I 
FBI themed book display with fiction and non fiction
used fiction and non-fiction titles. The sign simply had the FBI logo. You have the option of so many thrillers, romantic suspense, and mysteries. There are histories of the agencies and books about famous agents and cases. 

No one complained and the display was successful in getting books into the hands of patrons. 

This display in March of 2017 invited patrons to "Learn more about Russia." The books were mostly about modern Russia and Putin. Within a few days, the books on Putin were all checked out and I had to find other books to fill in the display. 

These sort of displays allow people browsing your collection to discover books about topics they are hearing on the news. Chances are, the people who grabbed the non-fiction didn't come in looking to research that topic but the face outs grabbed their attention. 

What kind of display to put up right now, based upon current events? Depends on your community but some suggestions would be:

Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton books - these are the other recent impeachments. Don't forget to add any DVDs you have in your collection. 

Congress - Fiction and non-fiction about Congress and the Capitol

US Constitution - Fiction, non-fiction, lists of online sources about the American Constitution

Washington D.C. - There is so much fiction that takes place in DC. Don't forget non-fiction and travel books. 

Add books about the March on Washington to your Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day display. 

I hope this helps you to see that breaking down current political events into subjects allows you to bring some attention to books that patrons might not discover on their own. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

New Year Book Display Ideas


New Year -Eat Something New
I have never liked "New Year, New You" book displays. Self improvement does not need to have an implicit or explicit aura of self-hatred. Save the diet books and exercise videos for another day. 

Instead, focus on showing patrons how they can "____ something new." They can learn something new, eat something new, make something new! It's a way to showcase some of your non-fiction collection that needs more exposure as well as helping them find something new to focus on. I have some pictures here that showcase a few of the displays I have done in the past. 

Think broadly and involve staff from all over your library. Don't forget to include materials from your audiobook and DVD collections. You can even include images and handouts from your ebook collections or databases. 

This idea would also work for youth services book displays. There is a gap in-between the holidays and the start of school. You could encourage some learning and crafting from kids who otherwise might be getting a little stir crazy. 
It would also serve patrons who don't celebrate those particular winter holidays. 

More ideas can be found in this list of New Year's Resolutions. Steal the heading of the list and customize the titles to fit what you have in your collection. Check your inbox for ideas from publishers this year. 

NPR's article has a great book display idea. Just switch it up a bit - "Find Joy with a New Hobby." Then shift to other ways that your patrons could find joy. This is another way to frame the same idea. 

If you want to showcase some fiction, encourage your patrons to "Meet Someone New" by setting up a display with under loved series fiction. Another angle of this is to search out that translated fiction that might not get enough attention. Don't forget to double check your display for diverse characters and authors. 

Finally, I often have included a "Visit Somewhere New" display with travel and travel narratives. Since we don't know when that will happen again, add fiction with a focus on place to those travel narratives. One option is Akashic Press' Noir Series
Other options include: 

9 Young Adult Books Where the Settings Are Characters/Bustle 

Top 10 World Building Fantasy Novels/Chicago Public Library 

What are you going to do for your January book displays? 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Podcasts as inspiration - True Crime Bulls**t

The popularity of true crime podcasts makes them a great source of inspiration for your book displays. Pick a few or more and pair them with books or movies with similar themes, subjects, or tones. Because book displays are passive readers advisory, we don't have the conversations with patrons that we would normally have to learn what they loved about the podcasts. By broadly interpreting what a read alike is, there is a better chance of catching what it is they love. 

I'll pick one podcast to use as an example. True Crime Bullshit  is hosted by Josh Hallmark on the Our Americana Network. TCBS is a serialized investigation into the life and crimes of serial killer Israel Keyes. (Of it's four seasons, three have focused on Keyes. The third season told the story of another serial killer.) Hallmark is a compelling narrator who focuses on telling a story about people: Keyes, his victims, and his friends and family. The story can seem intimate and personal at times. The listener feels as if they are following Hallmark on his journey and joining him in obsession about the case, possible, victims, and new clues. 

To get a sense of the podcast, as well as a similar one about a missing college student, Maura Murray, check out "Serial killers, brutal murder and the rise of the podcast detectives" by ClĂ©mence Michallon, The Independent,  12.13.20

Similar titles I would put on a book display:
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara.
The late author takes her readers on her search for a then-unknown murderer and rapist who terrorised Californians for ten years. It's a mix of memoir and reporting that mirrors TCBS in a lot of ways. Both authors take pains to remember the victims lost, telling their stories, while still bringing their audience along as they dive deeper and deeper into a case. 
More: "Michelle McNamara hunted, and was haunted by, the Golden State Killer" by Alexandra Alter, The New York Times,  2.15.18

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is the classic of the genre. His story switches between the victims, their friends and neighbors, and the murderers. Capote is an additional character in his story. 
More: "In Cold Blood, half a century on" by Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, 11.15.2009

My Dark Places: an L.A. Crime Memoir
 by James Ellroy is the novelist's telling of his own mother's unsolved murder, how it impacted his life, as well as his consuming search for her killer. While he investigates the case with a retired detective, Ellroy learns more about his secretive mother and her life. 
More: "Murder close to the heart" by Evan Roth, The Washington Post, 5.23.1995

A different sort of book with a similar deep dive into one case with a compelling narrative, and a sense of the very human tragedy in a murder would be Say Nothing: a True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. This book uses the abduction and murder of a single mother to tell the tragedy of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The stories of individual members of the IRA including Gerry Adams and the murdered woman, Jean McConville, and her family drive a compelling tale of political murder and those left behind. 
More: "How Conflicts End—And Who Can End Them" by David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 3.3.2019

The most recent book written about Israel Keyes specifically is American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan. Fans of TCBS have been critical of the book but your patrons could be interested. 

You can fill in the display with titles about serial killers like Ted Bundy as well as novels with a similar theme and tone to the books listed above. While I don't know your collection, some ideas can be found in these lists: 

Sarah Nicolas, May 25, 2017

Elizabeth Heiter, January 4, 2016

The Best True Crime Books About Serial Killers/Novel Suspects
Greta Shull