24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

Category: Show Off (page 1 of 2)

Show Off: Books to Make You LOL

I love using obscure “holidays” to pick a book display theme. When I found out March 19th was National Let’s Laugh Day, I had just the thing for it: humorous young adult materials for the month’s display. I admit, I’m usually not one to pick up well on humor in writing (in senior AP English, Candide‘s humor went way over my head). But it was easy enough to pull out a few books thanks to the organization of the library catalog.

Like in past displays, I used simple, printed bookmarks to remind anyone looking at the display that books on display can be checked out.

Different kinds of humor were incorporated in the selection of books. I’m a big fan of the very smart and biting humor of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart and the sometimes-sad, but super honest humor of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

The library’s OverDrive collection also had a humor section, which allowed me to direct those who were interested to similar digital titles via the display explanation sign. It was super fun to incorporate a well-beloved emoji into the display, too (I know it’s probably one of the ones I use most frequently).

What are some books that tickle your funny bone?

Show Off: Books with Bite

Around the beginning of autumn, it’s easy to fall into the spirit of the season. Pumpkin spice starts appearing in stores in absurd amounts, party stores suddenly become Halloween emporiums, and the idea of curling up with a spooky read and a cup of your favorite fall beverage is awfully tempting. Vampires, werewolves, and other monsters-turned-romantics might have somewhat gone out of style since the Twilight boom, but the pseudo-genre still has its fans. While at the James M. Duncan Branch of the Alexandria Public Library system in Alexandria, VA, I put together this book display of books featuring our fang-toothed friends. While many of of the titles include elements of paranormal romance, several are your standard young adult horror fare.

Young Adult Horror Novels Book Display

The sign for this display was inspired by this incredible large-scale piece. I was totally blown away by that work and, with my limited space, wanted to do something similar. This worked pretty well and added a nice three-dimensional aspect to a small space without overwhelming it. Plus, it was creepy and horror-inspired without too much gore. I really love the thorny background, which beckons feelings of fantasy.

Young Adult Horror Novels Book Display

Using the beloved “Chiller” font, I inserted some super-simple bookmarks that alerted browsers that the books were on display to be checked out.

Young Adult Horror Book Display

Young Adult Horror Book Display

Finding books to include was easy enough — quick subject searches of the four kinds of monsters I focused on yielded tons of results and even browsing what was on our shelves for books with the horror genre sticker led to several finds.  This is the time to start thinking about Halloween and horror displays. You might find some of the forgotten novels of last year’s (okay, 2007’s) genre find new hands and eyes with something fun and spooky!

Show Off: Crisis Contacts

I’ve seen nifty posters for where to find help in the library on tough topics floating around the internet. Sometimes, these resource lists will be on bookmarks, instead. I love the idea of these lists — we know people, teens included (or especially) will avoid asking right out for these kinds of resources. It can feel embarrassing or cause other distress. But when we tape posters in small print with this information or put out bookmarks, we require a person to go up to the poster and examine it in full view of whoever else might be in the library in order to get any use out of it. This is a step toward anonymity, but we can do better.

So I had the idea to post some resources in a much larger font in the teen area at Alexandria Public Library in Alexandria, VA. The theory was that teens visiting the area could be easily sitting at the table in the middle of the bookshelf-enclosed space and easily be able to glance up and see a resource and a phone number or simple URL without being obvious about it if they preferred to do it without notice.

The door included both local and national resources for the topics that I felt would be most relevant to the community. This, of course, doesn’t mean I didn’t miss some potentially important resources. The placement of the door and the fact that past “displays” had a history of being destroyed or marked up with crayons (particularly lower pieces) meant I was pretty severely limited with size. And because it was important to me that the text was reasonably readable at a distance, I could only fit so many resources on the board.

Another challenge was making the board interesting. Because of the serious nature of it, I didn’t want to go overboard with cutesy designs or glitter. Instead, I went with simple speech bubbles with encouraging phrases like, “I hear you,” and “You are important.” The orange borders complemented the blue accents on the resource pieces.

I gave the display a title of “You Matter.” Looking back, I might use a different phrase, since I later realized this might be seen as an attempt to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement, which was of course not my intent. I left this up longer than I do most displays on the door, and ultimately chose to permanently keep the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at the top right corner of the door regardless of what other displays I put up.

The limitation of space kept me from including more variety in the forms of resources. While online chat and text resources exist, they were not largely featured in this list of resources due to those limitations. I can’t offer any kind of indication as to how successful or useful the board was since much of the point of this resource was anonymity, but I hope it helped a few at least. I’ve since left my position at Alexandria Public Library, but hope the suicide prevention number remains. Any library considering a similar project should consider how to improve anonymity and access to these resources for their own community.

Show Off: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

With summer approaching, readers of all ages are looking for easy going reads with happy endings. Teen fiction over the last several years has veered toward the darker aspects of life. And no surprise! The recession combined with plenty of world events that have continued to reveal the murkier side of humanity has made pessimists of authors and readers alike. We find comfort and understanding in work that reflects our reality in one way or another.

But sometimes we need a break. We need an escape. So I put together this list of titles that are lighthearted. These stories aren’t without conflict — what is a story without conflict, after all? — but they’re fun reads. Great for the beach, pool side, or a tall glass of cold water, these novels will bring a little sunshine into your life.

Each book on the list is represented as a festive triangular flag.


What are some of your favorite lighthearted reads?

Show Off: April Showers Bring Superpowers

Summer means blockbuster movies mean superheroes! Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 arrives in theaters next week, so what better time to feature some of the library’s materials on superheroes than now? I put together this board for April, which gave me the excellent opportunity for the “title” of the board — April Showers Bring Superpowers. While I featured a few graphic novels, I also included some fiction and nonfiction to give readers who might read exclusively graphic novels the option of something related, but in a different format. Although this door display is located in the teen section of the James M. Duncan Branch of the Alexandria Public Library system, some of the materials are located in the adult section.

At this library, teen nonfiction is interfiled with adult nonfiction (which is located on the other side of the library). I hoped that teens who might venture over for the adult nonfiction titles featured in this display might come upon some familiar YA stickers on the spines of the YA nonfiction in the stacks and realize those materials were available to them as well. Plus, the adult section of the library always felt so forbidding to me — perhaps if we specifically invite teens to that side, their transition from teen to adult fiction might be that much easier. Of course, the transition need not be a complete transition — my reading is still YA heavy and there’s no shame in reading YA as an adult. But for readers looking for something outside the usual YA parameters, this might strike them as an opportunity.

Take a look at the door below and let me know what you think!

And, for those of you who want to cry out, “You can’t include Batman! He doesn’t have a superpower!” Consider this: Batman’s superpower is being super-sad.

Show Off: If You Liked Thirteen Reasons Why…

Thirteen Reasons Why is now not only a wildly popular tough-topics book for teens, but a Netflix series, too. There are so many similar novels out there, it wasn’t hard to pull together a list. I started with NoveList, but made use of subject headings including “suicide” and “grief,” too. While most of these novels don’t have the nifty cassette concept or an equivalent, many of them deal with topics many teens face daily. Whether they find comfort in these fictionalized versions of events in their real lives or enjoy the inherently high drama of these stories, teens will likely find at least one book to interest them in this set. Check out pictures of the display below along with a list of books I used.


Just after this I got straight to work on straightening the YA graphic novels.


The Good Sister Jamie Kain
Please Ignore Vera Dietz A. S. King
Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia Jenny Torres Sanchez
34 Pieces of You Carmen Rodriguez
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
Ghostgirl Tanya Hurley
Love Letters to the Dead Ava Dellaira
Boy Proof Cecil Castellucci
The Spectacular Now Tim Tharp
Teach Me to Forget Erica Chapman
The Memory of light Francisco X Stork
The Last Time We Say Goodbye Cynthia Hand
When Reason Breaks Cindy L. Rodriguez
Falling into Place Amy Zhang
And We Stay Jenny Hubbard
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Matthew Quick
Fall for Anything Courtney Summers
All the Rage Courtney Summers
By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead Julie Ann Peters
Suicide Notes Michael Thomas Ford
Stay with Me Garret Freyman-Weyr
The Beginning of After Jennifer Castle
After Kristin Harmel
The Beginner’s Guide to Living Lia Hills
A Map of the Known World Lisa Ann Sandell
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Ned Vizzini
Challenger Deep Neal Shusterman
Saving Francesca Melina Marchetta
Waiting for You Susane Colasanti
Before I Fall Lauren Oliver
If I Stay Gayle Forman
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac Gabrielle Zevin
The Body of Christopher Creed Carol Plum-Ucci
Willow Julie Hoban
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone Kat Rosenfeld

Show Off: Love at First Line

Around Valentine’s Day, I didn’t want to do the usual display for romance or anti-romance novels. Instead, I decided to play with the concept of love at first sight. You may have picked up a book and known, just by the first line, that you were going to love it. Maybe it was shocking and grabbed your attention with force. Maybe it was a sort of puzzle that urged you to keep reading for the answer. Maybe the first-named character shared your name and, well, if it was basically a book about you, it had to be good, right?

Well. For whatever reason the first line pulled you in,  you were hooked from the beginning. At Duncan one Sunday, I went to the shelves in our Young Adult collection and began selecting random titles. I read the first line from dozens of books, making note of the best ones and their titles.

After I’d typed the lines and their titles up, I put together a little game on the door. The title of the novels were taped to the door first, followed by the lines, which covered the novels like a flap. If the first line intrigued you enough, the idea was you’d lift that sheet to find out the title of the book (and its location on the shelf) which would then empower you to check it out and get started on a great read.

Here are some images of the display:


What are some of your favorite first lines?

Show Off: Fall Is All Around

In addition to book displays, I also have the privilege of decorating the door to a storage closet in the teen area. It’s partially blocked by a bookshelf which can make attractive designs challenging, but I’ve managed a few strategies to make it look a bit less lop-sided. One of these strategies is to use small elements that are scattered about to imitate the appearance of randomness and whimsy. When fall came about, my love of puns pushed me to create this “bulletin board” with the social media handles of several authors, books in the library with fall in the title, and an invitation for teens to add their own social media handles on blank leaves left for that purpose.

No one ended up sharing any of their handles, but the simple display hit on a handful of information needs and was an opportunity for passive programming.







What author Twitters do you love?

Show Off: Historical Fiction

I’ve never been really big on historical fiction unless there’s a fantasy element. If I learned anything from this book display, the readers of young adult fiction in Alexandria are basically in agreement with me. Book displays aren’t just a good way to up circulation, but a good way to assess from a general standpoint, what types and genres of books and other materials in which patrons or customers have an interest.

Unlike the Retellings display, the books for this display did not exactly fly off the shelves.  This is a library I’m only at for four hours once a week, so it’s difficult to say from that glimpse what types of books teens are checking out with fervor. There are circulation statistics available, of course, but those stats don’t come with a gauge of the level of excitement with which the book was checked out. I think, to degree, that matters. But let’s say I did know historical fiction circulated poorly in the YA fiction. If one of our goals is to increase circulation for under-circulating materials, then I might’ve made this display anyway, just to see if highlighting it made a difference.

I marketed this display with the idea of holiday giving — give yourself the gift of time travel. And some of the books did have a time travel element, but most were simply historical fiction. The images below give a sample of the titles I used in the display. You’ll also find a complete list of what else I might have pulled at the bottom of the post.

Do you have a favorite historical fiction?






Come August, Come Freedom Amateau, Gigi
This Vast Land Ambrose, Stephen
The Diviners Bray, Libba
Caminar Brown, Skila
Born of Illusion Brown, Teri
Goddess of Yesterday Cooney, Caroline B.
Audacity Crowder, Melanie
The Year We Were Famous Dagg, Carole Etsby
The Road of Bones Fine, Anne
Spirit’s Chosen Friesner, Esther
Untimed Gavin, Andy
Silver in the Blood George, Jessica Day
Luxe Godbersen, Anna
The Wild Golden, Christopher
Blythewood Goodman, Carol
Changeling Gregory, Philippa
Wicked Girls Hemphill, Stephanie
The Falconer’s Knot Hoffman, Mary
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy Kiem, Elizabeth
Mortal Heart LaFevers, Robin
Manor of Secrets Longshore, Katherine
Pateince, Princess Catherine Meyer, Carolyn
Miss Spitfire Miller, Sarah Elizabeth
All We Have Left Mills, Wendy
The Beautiful and the Cursed Morgan, Page
Venom Paul, Fiona
Dodger Pratchett, Terry
Sandell, Lisa Ann
The Hired Girl Schlitz, Laura Amy
The Enchantress Scott, Michael
The Ghosts of Heaven Sedgwick, Marcus
The Cup and the Crown Stanley, Diane
The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl Statham, Leigh
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Taylor, Mildred D.
Father of Lies Turner, Ann Warren
My Name Is Not Friday Walter, Jon
Countdown Wiles, Deborah
Palace of Spies Zettel, Sarah

Show Off: Retellings

With a new film adaptation of Anne of Green Gables recently broadcast on PBS (which you can stream on the PBS website until December 22, 2016) and the upcoming adaptation of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, it felt like the perfect time to showcase some of the Alexandria Public Library’s access to retellings of classic novels and fairy tales in the young adult fiction section. I was surprised at how many were available in the stacks. Not only were there retellings that stuck fairly strictly to the original material, but there were plenty that only followed the originals loosely. Below are the results of the display for the first week, though it needed significant restocking throughout its display life. I’ve included a list of the titles I used on the display.

The flyer posted with the display explaining the theme also included a list of other titles available throughout the system, which patrons might place a hold on to come to the Duncan branch or pick up at its owning branch after searching the catalog for the item.

Each book sat with a bookmark encouraging browsers to check them out and with a secret message lower down, hidden in the pages of the book. I always found as a browser at public libraries when I was a teenager that I was never sure if the books on display could be checked out or not. In fact, I was convinced they could not be checked out because doing so would disturb the display and leave a gap! Knowing what I know now, this sounds ridiculous. I’m inclined to believe, however, that plenty of people who browse my displays have the same feelings of uncertainty now, so I feel it’s really important to indicate somewhere on the display that patrons are allowed and even encouraged to check out items on the display.

What retellings do you love?







Titles Used on Display

Dark Companion Acosta, Marta
Everneath Ashton, Brodi
The Looking Glass Wars Beddor, Frank
Jekel Loves Hyde Beth Fantaskey
Antigoddess Blake, Kendare
A Curse as Dark as Gold Bunce, Elizabeth C.
Abandon Cabot, Meg
The Goddess Test Carter, Aimee
Oh My Gods Childs, Tera Lynn
Sweet Venom Childs, Tera Lynn
Goddess of Yesterday Cooney, Caroline B.
Black Spring Croggan, Alison
Entwined Dixon, Heather
Prom & Prejudice Eulberg, Elizabeth
The Sea of Trolls Farmer, Nancy
Bewitching Flinn, Alex
Towering Flinn, Alex
Nobody’s Princess Friesner, Esther
Masque of Red Death Griffin, Bethany
The Fall Griffin, Bethany
Just Ella Haddix, Margaret Peterson
If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? Kantor, Melissa
Enchanted Kontis, Alethea
Tender Morsels Lanagan, Margo
Catherine Lindner, April
Ash Lo, Malinda
A Court of Thorns and Roses Maas, Sarah J.
Throne of Glass Maas, Sarah J.
September Girls Madison, Bennett
Eyes Like Stars Mantchev, Lisa
Wildwood Dancing Marillier, Juilet
Spindle’s End McKinley, Robin
Cleopatra Confesses Meyer, Carolyn
Cinder Meyer, Marissa
Prophecy Oh, Ellen
This Dark Endeavor Oppel, Kenneth
Dorothy Must Die Paige, D. M.
East Pattou, Edith
Fathomless Pearce, Jackson
Sistes Read Pearce, Jackson
Life After Theft Pike, Aprilynne
Withering Tights Rennison, Louise
Cleopatra’s Moon Shecter, Vicky
A Long, Long Sleep Sheehan, Anna
The Madman’s Daughter Shepherd, Megan
Her Dark Curiosity Shepherd, Megan
Alice in Zombieland Showalter, Gena
Enthusiasm Shulman, Polly
Man Made Boy Skovron, Jon
Nameless St. Crow, Lili
The Chaos of Stars White, Kiersten
Briar Rose Yolen, Jane
Sass & Serendipity Ziegler, Jennifer
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