Behind the Scenes: Book Displays

By Alicia Ballard

Once a month, the El Reno Carnegie Library puts up a new themed book display near the new books section. The duty of planning displays are split between two employees. Here we will take a look at what goes on behind the scenes, and what it takes to create a display.

Just as any creative endeavor, an idea must be thought of before the display can go up. Typically, the display has an overall theme that all the books share. In the past we have had displays on Star wars, Game of Thrones, Stephen King, Banned Books Week, and many more. Some displays are influenced by holidays like Halloween. Some are influenced by town events like Burger Day. Some displays are created to highlight some of our overlooked, but amazing collections.

January’s display idea came from a resistance to the cliché “New Year, New (Blank)”. While binge watching Tales from the Crypt, an idea came to mind: Tales from the Library. An anthology based display modeled after the fun and fast television series. Once approved, it was on to planning. Armed with paper and tape, I needed to figure out how to translate my idea to the flat wall.

A big thing to keep in mind is that this display is for January, not October. I had to balance the feel of the show without completely alienating those who are not fans of horror as much as myself. I felt mixing in The Twilight Zone, or in this case the Library Zone, could offer that balance I was looking for.

First I start by designing the easiest part of the display, the bookmarks. They will serve as a small piece that the public can take home with them. Once they are finished, I print them on card stock for durability and cut them out. Typically I will make an initial three sets, then print and cut more with the demand. The leftover bookmarks are placed in our general free bookmarks area after the month is over.

Next, I think of what elements I want to take from my inspiration and how to translate that to paper. I wanted to keep the theme of 1950s horror comics. I start there, transforming short stories into faux vintage comic book covers. I also keep the tradition of bad puns running throughout the display.

Next I create my sign, since it all started with the idea for Tales from the Library, I keep that as the title of the display. In the description, I tell people that this display is not exclusively horror.


Now I plan for my other half of the theme; the Library Zone. A major icon is the title card with the random floating objects. I replace the items with tools used in the library; like stamps, book carts, or books themselves.


Last but not least I create a replacement list. This is for the other staff members to have as a guide to what book to use to fill an empty spot when I am not here. Some themes are easier than others, like this one. Some are more complicated, however, so I provide this list to make life a little easier for everyone.

replacement list

Just like with any creative endeavor, the true way to create a good display is to stay true to yourself and your audience. Listen to what the people want but ultimately create something that you want to look at every day. Have fun and take your time with it. I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look on how we create our monthly displays.


Bonus! Here are a few pictures of what the set up looks like:

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