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Collections Programming Wildcard Wednesdays

Poetry from the Stacks

Earlier this year, I attended the ACRL Instruction Section Virtual Engagement Committee’s lightning round presentation: Engaging Students in Library Instruction – Experimentation and Innovation. Stefanie Hilles’ portion of the webinar – Engaging College Students in the Library through Serendipitous Browsing: A Creative Exploration – caught my fancy. She took inspiration from Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Book series to create an activity engaging students with her library’s print collection.  

Our library recently completed a collection overhaul, transforming our stacks from overstuffed shelves crowded with faded titles to a sleeker, fresher look. We want students to browse, so for our summer book display, I asked library staff to create book spine poems of their own. The submissions ranged from ironic

Book spines stacked to read: The end of ice/ flames in our forest/ nothing to see here/ making the most of your money now.

to lyrical

Books stacked to read: the weaving explorer/ star gazer/ carve/ diamonds/ into the abyss/ creating their own image/ the glass universe.

to celebratory.

Books stacked to read: The best place to work/ the midnight library/ rereading childhood books/ banned books/ books for a living/ picture books for children/ heaven.

The poems are on display now, along with a sign encouraging students to make their own. 

So far we haven’t gotten any takers – it’s been a slow start to the summer – but I’m hopeful that some students will try their hands at book spine poetry. If not, maybe we’ll try the display again during a higher traffic part of the year!  

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