Planning Library Displays for the Year

I love planning my school library’s displays. Whether working as a library aide or as a teacher librarian, one of my favourite parts of my job is to plan and prep the displays – physical and digital – for the library. I know it’s not a favourite task of all librarians, while other love it. I am constantly amazed at the creativity people reach and the lengths they go to to achieve jaw-dropping arrangements. I am not that creative or skilled by any means, but I am pretty good at planning. And I’ve found that if I have my displays planned for the year, including pop-ups, big creative displays and simple book collections, then I am far more likely to actually achieve a rotation of displays, rather than just leaving one up for the whole term (been there, done that).

Planning my displays also enables me to make sure I have a good spread of genres, topics, and themes. I can make sure I am representing a wide range of readers, authors, and character diversity.

My planning approach

I have a favourite template that I have used for years. It’s just a table with two columns for each term and one row for each week that I print out on A4 or A3 paper. I have to do my display planning with paper and pencil. Just gets the creative juices flowing. I also have to do it at home and on holidays. I am more creative at home, can get up and do the dishes or fold the washing for thinking time, and this works better for me.

I also use a plain booklet made from a few sheets of A3 paper, folded and stapled. One of my student helpers first made me a booklet like this from paper that had gone through the printers without being printed on and now I can’t use anything else. It reminds me of that student and the full, plain white pages work so well for planning.

Paper documents with pink folder on table

So, with my year planner, booklet, pencil and access to the internet, I’m ready to plan. Once I’ve done an outline of ideas, I’ll take it to my library team. This year that will be my Library Technician, and together we’ll finalise it. I’ll leave room for any ideas she’s had, and change things where they don’t fit.

Why the whole year?

I plan for an entire year because I know if I don’t do it before the years starts I never will. No ‘oh, I’ll just do it as we go’ has ever worked for me. If I don’t plan, I don’t get as many or as creative displays done, if any.

I usually give each term a theme. I start with the CBCA Book Week theme, which takes up Term 3 down here in Australia. Then I find themes for the other terms. Sometimes I use alliteration, so if Book Week is about Connections, then the three other terms have c word themes, like create. You can see some of my previous themes here.

Then I pencil in the known events that are highlights of the year. For me that’s NSS, ALIA Library Lovers Day, Queensland School Library Week, Book Week and a few other events. Then I go through my Special Events Calendar to see what other days, weeks or months I want to feature this year. Once I have my themes, I start to collect ideas. I scroll through my saved ideas on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Pinterest board with square pictures of library displays

I create a list and then fit them under the themes. I check to make sure I’ve got a nice spread and go looking for ideas to fit any gaps. I use the table to plan week by week and the booklet to sketch out the ideas, display layouts and materials needed.

Some of my ideas for this year

Crafting and Creating

Once I have this plan, we can batch up anything we need to make for the term ahead. We’ll get the Cricut out to cut shapes and lettering, create posters for the term, check what we have in storage from previous displays and then just put them up as needed. It saves me loads of time and means I can be more productive.

Digital Displays and Social Media

Once I have the plan for the year, I can also prep my digital displays and social media elements. We have a TV on wheels in the school library that shows a slideshow of book recommendations and photos. For some displays, we will move the TV to form part of the display and in other cases it will be in another part of the library but still have images that reflect the current theme or display. This year, we will also have a blog which will reflect our displays and themes, so I’ll also create banners for the website and blog posts. This will also be shared on social media. Because I have my yearly plan, I can get started early on creating the graphics for the TV slideshow, blog banners and Instagram account using Canva, as well as posters or signs for the physical displays.

Canva homepage with three squares showing project graphics with the words new year new you with image of female stretching in front of pastel sunrise

I even schedule the Instagram posts using Canva’s content scheduling tool, as I know exactly when the display will be up. It saves me so much time throughout the year.

Let’s see how it plays out

Of course, not everything goes according to plan and inevitably there will be some displays we skip over, others we leave up for longer, but at least having a plan helps us keep the displays ticking over throughout the year, especially when things get busy.

I hope to show you some of our displays as we create them throughout the year.

How do you plan your school library displays? Do you plan them or can you make it up as you go throughout the year (I am in awe of you!!!). I’d love to hear your tips for planning or creating displays or some of the ideas you have for your displays this year.