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Article Highlight: The Display’s the Thing

by Sharell Walker

Terrile, V. (2021). The display’s the thing: A successful interactive, analog community college library display. In College & Research Libraries News (Vol. 82, Issue 2, p. 80–). Association of College and Research Libraries. https://doi.org/10.5860/crln.82.2.80

As many community or junior college librarians know, getting students to spend some of their limited free time viewing displays or attractions in the library is difficult. Vikki Terrile of Queensborough Community College faced this challenge once tasked with managing the display case at the entry of the library. The students repeatedly ignored previous attempts to garner student interest based on monthly heritage celebrations or book club readings.

Terrile decided to up the ante with the displays by creating a “Page to Screen” display with movie-related props (filmstrips, clapboards, film reels, red carpet, etc.), life-sized vintage boxes of popular movie theater candy, glitter foam stars, and simulated popcorn made from yellow and white tissue (2021). To take the display to the next level, Terrile added an interactive portion as a simple sticky pad asking, “What’s the best screen adaptation of a book you’ve ever seen?”. Adding the sticky pad proved to be the change the display needed. From the 19 sticky note interactions, Terrile continued the idea and converted the traditional displays into a board for word puzzles and games. The wordplay took off, at one point amassing 100 responses within 2 days. 

The experience showed Terrile that, with a little ingenuity and creativity, it is possible to create engaging and interesting library exhibits that raise interest in library services for very little money (2021). It also demonstrated the intellectual curiosity of the community college students they serve.

Any reader can take away hints from this article on how to create their own interactive library display. Terrile suggest the keys to an interactive display are an act of engagement and curiosity. If you can find something your patrons will want to think about, or something they may find delightfully challenging to think about, they may feel more inclined to interact with your display. While not every librarian may have Terrile’s skill to make popcorn out of a tissue, a simple question and answer board or word game, can intrigue students enough to get them interacting with the library space and faculty.

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