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					 State of Vermont                                                               Agency of Administration
 Department of Libraries        Tel:    802-828-3265
 109 State Street               Fax:    802-828-2199
 Montpelier, VT 05609--0601




          Strategies for Merchandising the Library’s Collection

In order to better serve the general reading population, librarians need to know who they are,
what they like to read, and how to make the collection more accessible. One excellent way to do
this is by becoming more aware of the physical setting and arrangement of the books on the
shelves. Making the library's collection more accessible to the public can be done by using a
number of very simple "merchandising" techniques. When merchandising the collection we
begin to look at how to make the physical arrangement of books and other materials on the
shelves more attractive and accessible to the public.

Unlike traditional displays, the main purpose of library merchandising is to bring about better
interaction between the public, library staff, and the various materials in the collection.
Merchandising offers an opportunity to communicate visually with the public and to promote
library services. Merchandising takes into account the physical arrangement of materials, using
lighting, signage posters, etc.

By merchandising or displaying selected book titles or other materials, you are offering
information about items you think are important or may be popular. Displays make better use of
the library's collection and, more importantly, create an interesting environment where people
feel stimulated and challenged.

Starting to merchandise the collection does not have to be a difficult or time-consuming task. It
can be as easy as turning a book face-out or making a simple and well-placed display. Below are
some suggestions for how to get started.

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Merchandising Goals: Promote better awareness of the library collection by using visual
displays to highlight books or other items. Save customer time in locating items that may be
difficult to locate in the regular library collection. Merchandising can help to promote better
access to library materials, encourage book discussions, increase interest in topics, make the
library a more enjoyable and stimulating one for both public and staff and make the physical
space a more attractive environment for the library’s public to use and enjoy.

Reader's Advisory or Interview: Many people visiting public libraries are "looking for a good
book to read." Putting a good or an interesting book in a patron's hands is something librarians
generally do well, but need to do more. Public librarians need to be book promoters, enthusiasts,
and experts in popular reading material. Take time to talk with your patrons and learn about their
reading interests. A simple question to use is, "What was the last book you read and enjoyed?"



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Genre Labels: You may want to use special spine identification labels to indicate mysteries,
science fiction, horror, westerns, etc.

Physical Location: Choosing space for displays is important. Place more permanent displays,
such as science fiction, mysteries, romance, in low-traffic areas. Fans will quickly locate them.
Save the high-traffic areas for more temporary or experimental displays to insure that they won't
be missed. After a while, people will come to expect changing displays in those areas. Place
books near the charge desk, ends of cross aisles, etc. Study traffic flow to insure optimum visual
contact. Make sure the areas are well lighted or use small spotlights to attract attention to the
display. A tabletop or bookcases are excellent locations for eye-catching displays.

Supplies: Although the computer is the principal tool for making library signs, flyers, etc., it still
is helpful to have some basic craft supplies on hand such as craft paper in a variety of colors;
magic markers; cardboard to use as backing; string; glue; poster boards and scissors. Unless you
have excellent lettering ability never hand-letter a sign.

Physical Components: Appearance does matter when designing a display. Consider: what if any
fixtures and objects will be used, the type of signage, color scheme, lighting, and finally
placement and location to ensure the maximum impact.

Audience: Whom are you trying to attract? If it's young people, make sure to include lots of
popular paperbacks. Older patrons might like to have some large print books included in the
display. For commuters and vacationers, include audio books, information on downloadable
audios and eBooks if you have them, and paperbacks.

Books & Other Media: Choose books or other items to be included in your display that are
timely, or related to a particular subject (politics, mysteries, travel, adventure, etc.), or theme. For
parents, try a "cross merchandise" display by putting picture books with books on early
childhood education, and a list of local resources on parenting. Many libraries use props when
designing a display, which can be a strong visual image.

Creating the Display and Signage: No messy signs! Signs should be easy to read, with large
bright letters or graphic images. Do not use more than two fonts and two or three colors for the
lettering. Try to create a feeling of space in your display. Use a composition that is active rather
than static. Repetition in a display helps to reinforce an image. Using mobiles in your display
creates movement. Props also can be used to bring interest to a library display.

Topical Displays: Media tie-ins (TV, radio, newspapers, current events), books into movies, etc.

Annotations and Booklists: Annotations should be short and concise and take no more than a
minute or less to read. Booklists are a great way to promote and advertise parts of your
collection. Many larger libraries use "staff picks" for book lists. Post the lists both in house and
on your website

Book Talks and Book Reviews: Do formal book review presentations to both adult and
children's groups and have a display of books that tie into your talk.



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Discussion Groups: Launch a book discussion group or a poetry reading in your library. These
can use local talent or contact the Vermont Council on the Humanities for help with book
discussions and scholars.

Reader's Interest Categorization: Arrange your collection in the fashion of a bookstore, using
popular subject categories such as computers, home improvement, childcare, health, etc. Signage
is a must along with good lighting and easy access.


Remember that along with books you can display pamphlets, recordings, prints, DVDs, reference
materials, etc. Don't judge the success of your display only on the basis of circulation. Your
display may trigger some in-house use, or make the library look more inviting, or spark
questions about the library's services. Displays help to create an interesting environment where
people feel stimulated and challenged. A few carefully designed displays will create a positive
image of the library in both the public’s and the staff's minds. Finally, remember to have fun!




                                            This publication is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services,
                                                 a federal agency, through the Library Services and Technology Act.




CBEC/Cont. Ed.
m.roche 8/2004; revised grace.greene 8/10




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