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“Here we go again”: Getting Creative with Library Displays

January 15, 2019

Here we go again… Does anyone else feel the sense of boredom when it comes to trying to create displays and programming for the same events year after year? It’s striking me quite hard at the moment as our college cadets have been off campus for a month, and are returning just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Our students celebrate MLK Day every year… How do we come up with new and innovative ways to re-engage not only our students, but also ourselves for these special events?


virtueAt Valley Forge Military Academy & College, we honor a “Virtue of the Month” tied in with the five pillars of our institution, and integrate it across campus. We have a speaker come in for a session in our chapel; some faculty integrate the virtue into their lesson plans. We at the library create a recommended reading list, and create a small display featuring those books. We have the physical books displayed, and then also feature the titles in the “Recommended Reading” section of our online catalog!

We also tap into things that are unique to our campus, like the birthdays of our service salingerbranches, and POW MIA Recognition Day (our library houses our campus POW MIA tribute). And for January 2019, we’re celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of the creator of one of my favorite fictional teen boys, Holden Caulfield, none other than Mr. JD Salinger (class of 1936)!

We do similar displays throughout the year, but felt like we hit a rut. We started paying attention to news stories and social media feeds, trying to get an in on something new, something unique… We heard about National Cocoa Day (December 13th) from an ALA Store email listserv, and thought, hey, it’s during finals week, why not celebrate? So we did! It was a HUGE success, and we kept the cocoa flowing late into our extended hours.

Libraries are in the information business… no one knew about National Cocoa Day – until we told them! So – we’ve since discovered National Today, a website featuring over 1100 celebration days and suggestions for how to celebrate! We’re gearing up for National Lego Day coming up on January 28th, and have purchased some Lego Classic sets to have on reserve here in the library. This event will also launch our having board games and puzzles on reserve as well. We’re hoping that it could also be an impetus to get more involved with Makerspaces…

Get creative! Know your audience; know your mission statement. Create a tie-in, and go for it!

That being said: Happy National Hat Day (January 15th)! Don’t be a phony; go put on your red hunting cap, and read some Catcher in the Rye (or maybe sip on some cocoa while playing with Legos)…

(images credited to Baker Library at Valley Forge Military Academy & College)

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