Library books for teenagers or young adults?

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We have a Divergent display at the moment near the entrance and although I haven’t actually seen anyone take a book from it, I had to replace a couple the other day so I was very pleased!

I’m trying to get people to borrow more of our teenage books but it’s difficult. The Teenage section is tucked away in the computer room, which doesn’t help, and should we change the name to Young Adult? There’s a big crossover with other books in the library and the Dark Romance section is very popular, so perhaps some of the teenage books should be promoted by genre rather than by age? Or perhaps Young Adult e-books are the answer – I love the graphics on another library blog (the inspiration for this display).


Children’s nonfiction in public libraries

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Our children’s nonfiction collection has been worrying me for a while! The books were tightly packed, borrowed infrequently and there was no room for front-facing displays on the shelves. We use the Dewey Decimal classification system and as a result, not all books are where you’d expect them – and children and parents don’t want to have to ask the library staff every time they’re looking for something.

The first thing I did was have a drastic weed of the nonfiction and remove all the tatty or out of date books so each bay had one or two display shelves and the whole area looked more inviting. Then I created a new section called History Projects and filled it with all the relevant books from the main sequence. We had no money for shelf dividers so I covered some withdrawn adult fiction hardbacks with black paper and stuck laminated labels on their spines: Egyptians; Greek; Romans; Medieval and Castles; Tudors; Stuarts; Georgians; Victorians; World War One; World War Two. The books have coloured stickers on their spines for easy shelving, but are in Dewey order within each section.

Almost straight away I noticed more children borrowing the History Project books and we’re shelving more children’s nonfiction generally, so it all seems to be working. I think we need to move some of the other books as well and create more shelf dividers, although it’s not always easy to choose the best way to split up the books. For a start, I think pets should be shelved with other animals and poetry and jokes should have their own sections nearer the fiction. We haven’t altered any catalogue records so it will all be easy to change if we find something else works better. Some libraries arrange their books by curriculum area or by age but I think this is too restricting as there are too many cross-curricular books and I don’t like the thought of children (or their parents) avoiding books that are considered too young for them.

Nonfiction is important for children as many (particularly boys) prefer it to fiction. It opens up wonderful facts to them and helps their reading, writing and academic conversation skills. At a time when many bookshops have cut back on their children’s nonfiction (now often dominated by character or tv-based books) and many schools have lost their libraries, it’s even more important that public libraries provide children with books to excite and inform them.

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Chick Lit display for spring

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It’s easy to ignore books none of the library staff reads but Chick Lit is popular (and I’m a big fan of Bridget Jones!) so I thought it deserved a bit of promotion for a change. It’s an awful name for a genre and (as I’ve mentioned before) I hate the way books are marketed to men/women or girls/boys. I’m hoping the “chick” pun and the “spring” display will distract people from the “feminine” covers and perhaps encourage some men to try the books, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking? I copied the display idea from the Oakridge branch of Vancouver Public Library, but avoided the pink background.

British Museum tips for public libraries

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This week the British Museum opens its newly refurbished gallery devoted to the Sutton Hoo treasure and Europe 300-1100 AD. The wonderful jewels and artefacts have been removed from their ill-lit, overcrowded display cases and visitors can now see them in their full glory. There’s even a re-branding exercise going on – the Dark Ages are now referred to as the early Middle Ages or the early medieval period, to make people realise that the Brits didn’t suddenly turn into Barbarians as soon as the Romans left!

You’re probably thinking that the average small public library has little in common with the mighty British Museum, but we do have our treasures and we’re not always very good at presenting and re-branding them. In Sandwell each library has a stock champion who meets the other champions regularly, to come up with and share new ideas for promoting our stock. Recently, Lilah (Langley’s champion) ordered all the old, out of print Marion Chesney books that had been lying in reserve stock for years and created an MC Beaton display. Beaton is the very popular author of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth books, but originally she wrote under the name Marion Chesney (her earlier books are now being re-published but many are still only available as e-books). She has re-branded herself as an author and Lilah has unearthed these little treasures. Not quite the famous Sutton Hoo helmet, but an example of how we can offer something slightly different to people.

Most Borrowed Children’s Authors

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The Top 10 most borrowed children’s authors published by the UK Public Lending Right (PLR) contain few surprises. The top author is Daisy Meadows, the group of authors who write the Rainbow Magic series, helped by the sheer number of books they write. Roald Dahl is still going strong at number 7 and Enid Blyton is just outside the Top 10 at number 13 (she’s not popular in our library, despite my best efforts, so I was surprised to see her so high).

The list is a little out of date by the time it’s published, covering July 2012 to June 2013, so I’d expect David Walliams to be up there next year – his books are really popular and several adults have been borrowing them as well, having enjoyed the television adaptations over Christmas.

The list actually makes an attractive, colourful display in the children’s area but you wouldn’t know it from my dreadful photo, so apologies for that!

March book display – spring garden books

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Luckily coinciding with some sunny weather at last, I chose gardening books for this month’s non-fiction display and I called it Spring Gardens, rather than Spring Gardening, to encourage armchair gardeners to pick up a book as well. We’ve had some gorgeous new gardening books come into stock recently so this is a good way to showcase them.

Fairy tale crafts

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Our fairy tale craft session at half term produced some great results! Using kitchen roll tubes,  coloured paper and felt tips, the children created some lovely characters, based on the library’s fairy tale books. Then they covered cereal boxes to make little stages on which to act out the stories. A couple of the boys went beyond the books and thought that sharks should get a look in too.