Library Displays: Big-over-the-top display

Last month, I was asked to create a display for the big display case near the main entrance to the library. Naturally, I jumped at the chance!


I decided to make a big, huge, over the top display, with all the things I want to do regularly and can’t because of the limits of the display area I’m normally working with. Additionally, I wanted it to have a fairy tale kind of feeling. This is the finished product.
Close up of the right side.

I really like the whale

Middle panel

Left side

I used quite a bit of poster board for this project–the castle, the sea animals, boat, and the hot air balloons are all made out of poster board. Some of it was drawn with Sharpie, other pieces are cut paper.

Here are the two balloons. I suspended them with string and fixed it so they wouldn’t swing around and show the (unadorned) back.

Castle. I drew and decorated the individual pieces and then layered them to create a slightly 3-D effect. The base is two Baker & Taylor boxes taped together and covered in green butcher paper.

The first layer is put together!

And now it’s mostly done.

I love how this project turned out, and it was really fun to be making something so creative and bold. It was a ton of work, but I’m very pleased with the results.


Library Displays: Amazing Women and Spring

Amazing Women

The first display I made in March was highlighting Women’s History Month. I created a graphic in Publisher which I would be sharing right now if I hadn’t accidentally deleted it. And then I pulled together a bunch of books, trying to feature different times and kinds of being women, as well as representing a diverse group. I think I ended up with a good mix, and this display circulated really well for a more serious subject. I mostly focused on picture book biographies, because I think they’re more eye-catching, with some non-fiction mixed in.


I always enjoy putting together a spring display for the library. Last year, I did a row of over-sized tulips and the year  before I did a rainy day theme. This year, I was inspired by a program I did a month or so ago, where we made tissue paper flowers. I created a swag of colorful flowers, printed off a banner, and assembled it.


The finished product


Here’s a close-up of the flowers. Some of them were inspired by real flowers, and some weren’t, but I’m very happy with how they turned out overall (I tried to make a tulip and it looks like a poppy, I think because tissue paper isn’t stiff enough to hold shape well).


What I especially like about this display is the three-dimensional aspect. My normal default is to make displays that are 2-D, because I like paper crafting. But this is really different and eye-catching, imo. Something to remember!


Library Displays: January-February 2015


I wanted to take a look at some of the displays I’ve done in the children’s room recently. With the change in my job, some of my focus has moved away from displays, but I am still trying to do at least two a month. These are from the past two months.

Bedtime: This is always a popular topic and it seemed like January was a good time for snuggly stories about going to bed. I put together the banner above in Publisher, using some graphic elements and an Alison Jay illustration.

Creativity: I actually called this one “Make It” on the banner and tried to feature a number of different ideas of making–food, art, clothing, crafts, and other creative projects. We were very overdue for a non-fiction oriented display and I was pleased with how this one went.

Black History Month: This year and last I’ve been trying to make Black History Month displays that are creative and inspiring. Last year, with the focus on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I went with “Let Freedom Ring” and tried to feature some of the many different people who were involved in the 1960s civil rights movement. This year, I focused on both fiction and non-fiction books which were created by black writers and illustrators. It’s circulated pretty well! And I’m renewing my own commitment to be sure to include diverse books in all displays, not just the heritage months.

Sheep Tales: According to the Chinese zodiac, this is the year of the sheep (or maybe goat? sources seem to disagree). I’m not doing a display directly based on that, but it did seem like an opportunity to pull out some of the picture books and non-fiction that feature sheep.


Library Display: The Hobbit

The last part of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit, The Battle of the Five Armies, came out yesterday. While it’s far from a perfect adaptation, I have enjoyed the movies. Last year I came up with a display to highlight some readalikes.
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For this one, I used the Ringbearer Font, since it’s one of the most recognizable and readable of the LotR related fonts*. It and many of the others are available through Arwen-Undomiel. And I used this image to go with it (I tried to find a source and completely failed!). I mounted it all on green construction paper and called it good.

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And here you can see some of the books I chose to go with it. I tried to include a variety, since I think there are different reasons to love The Hobbit. Some dragon books, some adventure, some epic fantasy.

* Yeah, my old Tolkien nerddom really had fun with this one!


Library Display: Nellie Bly/Around the World

I’m in a bit of a reading slump at the moment, so I’m pulling an old library display out from the files.

Last year, it was the 100th anniversary of Nellie Bly’s historic trip around the world, an attempt to beat Jules Verne’s fictional 80-mark. It’s a fascinating story, and I definitely recommend Matthew Goodman’s book, Eighty Days, for teens and adults who are interested in finding out more about Bly, her competitor Elizabeth Bisland, and the race. So far the race, I made a display focusing on books about different places around the world, as well as travelers and Nellie Bly herself. The idea could easily be adapted for a general travel display, or for a display focusing on a specific country or state.

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I was lucky enough to find an old atlas that had been discarded, from which I took a page to make the background for my display. I believe it was actually a map of Alaska, which is kind of fun.

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The font I used for this display was Matura, not a font I normally gravitate towards, but it seemed to fit the image I was trying to create. So once again sacrificing personal taste in the interest of making a display (remember the fairy wings?) I went with it. I wish, in retrospect, that I had manged to cut out the lettering in a more professional-looking way, but oh well.

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And here’s a view with all of the books. I tried to find things that looked interesting and more modern than the kind of straight non-fiction informational books about countries and so on. There are also lots of different books about travelers and journeys as you can see.

Books about Nellie Bly, travelers, etc
Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly by Sue Macy
Around the World by Matt Phelan
Miranda the Explorer by James Mayhew
Journey by Aaron Becker
The Adventures of Odysseus by Hugh Lupton
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Around the World in 100 Days by Gary Blackwood


Library Displays: Springish edition

Go Green!100_3978
Very simple, partially inspired by a yalsa listserv post (so I guess my original feeling of, “Are you KIDDING? You’re asking other people for books with green covers instead of looking at your collection?” is probably not kind of me). I printed out “Go Green!,” cut them out, stuck them on popsicle sticks and proceeded to scour the collection for books with green covers.

Fairy Tales
I am extremely opposed to glitter, but in the interests of patron happiness, I sacrificed both morals and my personal taste and glittered up a pair of fairy wings. I tried to stick to fairy stories from the chapter books and fairy tales that have fairies in them (a surprising number don’t), since I’ve done folk and fairytale displays several times already. This has been a fairly popular display, but I can’t quite figure out which items have been circing.




Last year I did a rainy theme, but this year after the winter we all had, I wanted something cheerful. So big tulips it is! These were pretty simple–I sketched them out and put them together in a day.

Poetry tree




I took this as my inspiration, although mine didn’t turn out looking quite so fancy. Then I cut out leaves of different colors and wrote out bits of poems from several favorite poets on the leaves. Glued them on and attached.


Library Display: Winter

When I decided to make a winter-themed display, I knew I wanted to have a hibernating bear on it. (I might be slightly obsessed with the number of bears in children’s literature, from Little Bear to Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep.) And I also decided that I wanted it to be a snowy scene, to give some contrast. I ended up doing quite a bit more than I had planned to (this sums up all of my displays ever), but I’m really happy with the end result.


Here’s the left side of the display. I started with two large sheets of white butcher paper. I colored one with the side of a grey crayon, on a slightly bumpy surface, which gave me a slightly mottled effect. The other I cut into a hill with level ground on either side. Next, I cut out the cave for the bear and drew the bear on a piece of brown construction paper, tracing the lines with a thin sharpie and shading lightly with a brown colored pencil. I also drew a yew bush, using colored pencil for the trunk and leaves, red sharpie for the berries, and white cardstock for a layer of snow on top. There’s also a little rabbit hiding under the bush.


Next, I drew a bunch of birch trees on white cardstock, tracing the lines with sharpie again and using grey colored pencil to make the darker strips of bark. I also wanted to do a little cardinal sitting in one of the birch trees, so I drew him separately and stuck him on.


On the far right, I did a few more birch trees, a flying cardinal, and a red fox. I really wanted to do a fox, because I think they’re cool (and also my mom’s maiden name was Reynard), and because they’re a wintery animal that would show up nicely against the grey and white background. I’m happy with how he turned out, especially the slightly smug little smile.

Bonus display: science fiction-themed! I used a stock wallpaper to make the background and found an SF-looking font for the text. I put it all together in Publisher and printed it off. (Publisher is awesome!)


Both of these displays have circulated really well, and I think they work visually too.

All of my library display posts


Library Display: Halloween 2012

I thought I would share the display I made for Halloween last year, which was one of the first ambitious displays I did. I really wanted to do something with silhouettes, because they’re my favorites. So I found a lot of silhouettes online, and adapted them slightly. I freehanded the trees and castles.



The trees were definitely Arthur Rackham inspired–his trees are so lovely and eerie at the same time.



I did a continuous scene around the bottom of the cubes, taping the orange and brown paper up.



On the top, I did single silhouettes of some Halloween-y things.



I like the castles, myself, especially this one.



This was a great display, but it was also a LOT of work. I did something much simpler this year.


Library Displays: Summer/Fall 2013

Wow, I haven’t done any library display posts for a long time! And I’ve done some I’ve been very happy with. So, rather than doing a long series of posts about each display, I’ve rounded them all up here.

During Summer Reading (end of May-end of July), I had a Dig Into Reading display which I talked about earlier. That was a really fun display to make, but it was also a lot of work, so I tried to make the other displays I did at that point a little simpler. First, I had a “Dig In!” display, which was all cookbooks and books about food. I just printed off large all caps letters and cut them out, and then printed a clip art place setting and used that as well. Later on, I took a bit of inspiration from the Geek the Library program and did a “Dig Dinos?” display. For that graphic, I used Microsoft Publisher and set some clip art into a colored background, with the text as a Word Art bubble in the background as well. (I still have the file for that one, so if you’d like to see it, let me know.)


I also had an unrelated display up at the same time–“Try a Graphic Novel!” in the area by the self-checkout. This was a really popular display, and I just did a quick clip art graphic for it. I recently switched that area to “Listen Up!” for audiobooks. This has also been a pretty popular display, and I’m hoping that it helps people notice our audiobook collection a little more. Also, apparently I feel the need to use exclamation points for those displays? I don’t know. For a visual hook with the audiobook display, I found a pair of lost earbuds that had been sitting in our lost-and-found for a long time and taped them to the banner on either side of the words. I don’t know that anyone’s particularly noticed it, but I was happy with the effect.

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Here’s the display that took the place of the Dinos. Because of the location of the pillar, whatever display is there has to be either a really popular topic, or be pretty eye-catching. I went for the eye-catching this time, and hoped that the Percy Jackson tie-in would also help (although I hear that movie didn’t do so well?). The whole thing was done with Microsoft Word clip art–I printed it off, and then outlined the different elements with Sharpie and cut them out. The lettering was printed on colored paper, which I then shaded with colored pencil, traced with sharpie, and cut out. I was also trying a technique, which didn’t work so well, of mounting them on something to make a more 3-dimensional effect. The graphic part worked all right, but the lettering just looked kind of odd, in my opinion. If anyone has successfully done more 3-D lettering like that, I’d love to hear tips!

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And then I changed the Summer Reading display on the cubes to a back to school one. I was inspired by a couple of displays I saw on Pinterest, and turned the whole thing into a school bus. I was really happy with how this display turned out and got several comments about it as well (which is really unusual!). I’m also trying to do make my lettering a little bolder, so I was experimenting with that here. It was a fair amount of work, but since it seems a lot fresher than apples and rulers, I’m just fine with that.

At the moment, the pillar display has football books, which is about to change because 1) Talk-like-a-Pirate Day is coming up and 2) we are out of football books. I spent about 5 minutes on that display–literally just took the best Word clip art image, enlarged it, and printed it off. No words, just a football. It’s circ’d really well, though, which may partly be because we have a lot of class visits at the moment and, of course, the Colts are playing again.

The other displays are the Listen Up display and a fall display. That one I did by using up some of our many many Ellison die leaves–I picked out a bunch of different colors and traced the veins with a darker colored pencil. Then I taped them on fish line and hung them from the ceiling above the cubes. The neat thing about this is that at certain times the air system sends a draft right over the cubes which makes the leaves blow around! I love the way it looks visually, and it’s a lot different from the more static displays I’ve gotten. The downside is that kids seem to like grabbing the leaves; I’ve shortened the fish line several times and I’m still coming in to leaves down. 😦 But I’d love to do a similar idea for a winter display, with snowflakes.


Library Display: Summer Reading/Dig Into Reading

This year, the theme for the Collaborative Summer Library program, which is used by many libraries across the country, is “Dig Into Reading”. For the children’s programs, that is–teens and adults each have their own related theme. I think it’s a great theme, simply because you can do so much with it–digging, underground, animals, even food. At any rate, when I first heard the theme, I started thinking about Wind in the Willows, and the Root Children, and gnomes. And then I made a display, incorporating all of those. It took a really long time and was a lot of work, but I also feel like it’s 1) one of the best displays I’ve ever made and 2) the display that is the most Maureen-y.

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Here we have a badger reading Wind in the Willows. Behind him, on the wall of his badger hole, are family pictures–Papa Badger, Mama Badger, and both of them with Baby Badger. There’s a cheerful daisy blooming over his head.
I started by sketching out a whole scene, on multiple sheets of paper. I knew I wanted lots of underground tunnels and holes, with both animals and fanciful creatures in them. I also added a couple of snails and some grasses and plants, to make things interesting on the surface.

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A beetle walking towards a clump of grass, while a snail goes towards a mushroom. You can see the beginning of the ant tunnel on the right.
Then I began to sketch and cut out the individual pieces. Most of them are cut out of multiple pieces of paper and glued together. There was a lot of cutting involved in this display, and I was extremely grateful for all those hours I spent cutting out paper dolls when I was young! With pieces like the mushrooms, I also made sure to leave a foot to glue onto the main piece of paper that forms the dirt. With things like the snail, that went over the paper, I left out this step.

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An ant tunnel, which I realize looks NOTHING like real ant tunnels. Also, a little bush that I had to make at the last minute, and a bird. There’s a worm heading toward the ant tunnel, and a yellow butterfly on the right.
Next, I used some of our wonderful supply of large paper to make the sky and the ground. I also found some lighter brown construction paper to make the tunnels. Initially, I had been thinking of something even lighter, but I think what was there turned out to be perfect.

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Another butterfly and a red snail. In the center, a purple root child contemplates a ladder–I largely ignored the question of how everyone would get in and out of their tunnels and holes–while a clump of pansies blooms.
Then I had to put everything together. This was a multiple day process and my coworkers were extremely gracious about putting up with things scattered everywhere.

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A cloud rains on a gnome, who shelters under a mushroom. He has been throwing raspberries down into a basket, while below him a Root Child and a shrew examine the storeroom. A worm is on the way to pay a visit.
There was a minor hiccup in the assembly process–I glued the ant tunnel down in the wrong spot and then had to figure out how to rearrange everything that was left. Fortunately, it did work, because the glue had set.

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On the left, a garter snake pokes its head out, while two ants march up the hill. A Root Child and a gnome are going through the snake’s back door, while another Root Child slides down a pole to the basement and a mole tunnels his way out.
Finally, I had everything glued together. Then I had to actually put the whole thing on the cubes. THAT was a fun process. (And by fun, I mean not fun at all.) It was a bit difficult to get everything positioned so the different tunnels weren’t going around a corner, partly because things had shifted from my original drawing.

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A gnome stands in the grass at the top of the hill, while a Root Child points out a mushroom to a butterfly. A water snake looks at a frog, who is enjoying the shade of a water lily.
However, eventually I found the right configuration and got everything taped on (double-sided tape, you are my true love! never leave me!). And that’s it!

Title of display: Dig Into Reading
Theme: Summer Reading
Time: Ahahaha–5-6 hours?
Resources: These for the root children: 1; 2; 3; 4; Google Image searches for the different animals and plants.