Check It Out: Shelving and Display Solutions
Shelving, display and the library's desire to merchandise their offerings is all the buzz these days. Librarians look to shelving and furniture manufacturers to provide solutions for new ways of showing books, tapes and CDs; and they are looking to bookstores for some hints from the retail industry. Much can be learned from the retail industry. Merchandising has been used in libraries for some time in the children's area, as the goal of the library was to capture the attention of younger patrons by using colors and shapes and creating displays that match the books they are displaying. Seasonal displays have been created in other areas of the library or to celebrate a time in history or a topic of interest to the locale. New books and staff recommendations have been potentials for display; only in the past few years has display become an interest in all areas of the library. A trip to a local mall will demonstrate a wide variety of techniques used in merchandising that can be incorporated into a library setting.
Some displays stack copies bookstore/tower-style to show that there is a good supply to be had (and subconsciously emphasize the popularity of a particular item) while showing the front cover of a book or audio/video case has always drawn attention and helped the circulation of materials. With the addition of an accessory called a zigzag display, a standard shelf can become a display area. All shelving manufacturers offer periodical displays in a hinged and a fixed display option, and the shelf that is mounted underneath the sloped shelf can cantilever from as far down as desired to provide the area needed for display (in the past, these were more commonly used for back issues of the current issue shown on the display/slanted shelf above; and now they are used for a stack of books like the one displayed cover out on the slanted shelf).
Browsing bins are a somewhat recent design simulating the way that record albums, tapes and CDs are browsed in a music store (front-to-back access) and these browser bin drawers are available. The pull-out options make efficient use of vertical space. The proper height to place this type of shelving should follow guidelines for ADA; being neither too high (higher than 54") or too low (lower than 18") for the patron.
End aisle placement of displays is what realtors call "Prime Real Estate." Librarians need to lay out their libraries to discover where these areas will be, by studying traffic patterns and placing the displays as near to these aisle ways as possible without obstructing traffic. Shelving end panels with the slat or slotted wall designed to accept clear Plexiglas or metal accessories to hold materials are a popular option to add display area. The end panels that face the entry of the library provide a cost savings measure rather than displaying on both ends of the range. These panels with a series of horizontal slats can be mounted on walls for additional surface display area. Canopy tops on lower ranges of shelving provide flat areas available for open book display. Sometimes the higher shelves are used for display as the library grows into the shelving that is purchased for opening day.
I am in the process of researching new ways of merchandising a library's collection. If you have found a way that works for you or a brand of shelving that has done a good job of merchandising, I would welcome any suggestions so that it can be incorporated into an article for WebJunction. Email me at TISHSOURCE@aol.com.
Tish Murphy, Library Furniture Consultant and Author of Library Furnishings; A Planning Guide lives in Phoenix, Arizona. www.libraryfurnishings.com
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