Feb 8, 2014

Celebrating National Libraries Day with a Blind Date with a Book Display

National Libraries Day logo

Celebrating National Libraries Day with a Blind Date with a Book Display
Happy National Libraries Day! As part of my library’s celebrations I’ve been hard at work these past few weeks putting together a “Blind Date with a Book” display. As some of you might know, this is an idea that has spread like wild fire over the past few years as several libraries around the world joined in — there’s even a dedicated Pinterest Board full of pictures of the results. The basic idea is to encourage patrons to step out of their comfort zones and pick up a book they normally wouldn’t. We do this by wrapping books in brown paper and labelling them with nothing but a few hints of what they’ll find inside. It’s at its core an exercise in reader’s development, and few things make me happier than that.

Between picking the books, wrapping them, decorating them and coming up with the descriptions, I soon learned that this kind of display is very labour intensive, but with the invaluable help of a few colleagues, I managed to prepare 45 books. I really hope people will enjoy the challenge. The one thing I was careful to do was not give away the books’ genre or marketing category, and my instructions encourage people to give their books at least a few chapters even if they come from a section of the library they normally stay away from. If by the time we’re done someone with preconceived ideas about, say, SFF or YA discovers there’s more to these books than they suspected, I’ll consider it a job well done.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see pictures of the results of my hard work. Any books you think you can identify? (You can click the photos to enlarge them.)

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display

Blind Date with a Book display


Jodie said...

You wrapped 45 book? In awe. And the display looks lovely.

Heather said...

This is a cool idea, and you did such a lovely job! It looks great.

Too Fond said...

That's a really cool idea--I would want to read them all just to see what's inside the brown wrapping! :)

Laura said...

They look great :) I like that you were careful not to include a genre description... I think that's important to truly encourage readers to try something outside their comfort zone. The display I saw recently had genre labels, and my eyes were instantly drawn towards the ones that said "this is a fantasy novel" :)

Kiirstin Maki said...

Looove it! We've done a similar sort of display here for Freedom to Read Week -- I put a sticker on the paper that says "Someone didn't want you to see this book. Are you going to let them tell you what to do?"

It usually goes over quite well. That's coming up at the end of the month for us, again!

Renay said...

This is so cool and looks FANTASTIC. :D

eveningreader said...

What a wonderful idea! I cannot imagine that it won't be a big hit. I wish my library did something like that all--all the time! Sometimes it's too easy to follow a list full of things we know are to our tastes.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I'm so impressed that you did 45 of them! That's so so many! Well done -- it looks like an amazing and fun display.

Noémi said...

Such a lovely idea! I think I'll tip my local library about it! :)

Biblibio said...

This is truly incredible. Wow.

Laura said...

This looks so great! I think I spotted Paper Towns and Rose Under Fire in there--those will be some lucky readers! :)

Melwyk said...

This looks great! We do this as well, and yes, it is quite labour intensive -- there are 3 of us working on it this year. We encourage people to give their choice a go no matter what it is (mostly by including a rating sheet inside that they can fill out after reading and enter for a prize -- chocolate of course) Last year we had quite a few comments that their book was something they never would have chosen but that they really enjoyed it -- just the result we all hope for, I think!

Trisha said...

This is so much fun! Seeing those wrapped books makes me want to open pretty much all of them - especially since you picked them out.

Debi said...

Oh my gosh, what a fantastically cool idea! I cannot imagine how much time went into it, but at least I'll bet it was fun. :) Wish our library would do something like that!

Nan said...

This is just amazing. Such a fantastic idea. I also like what Kiirstin noted. Great places, libraries!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I wish my local library would do this! Please let us know people's feedback.

mee said...

Did you do the question marks by hand? That's a lot of question marks! :) I experienced this many years ago (as a library visitor) when my library in Sydney did this mystery book thing. Good to know that the idea has spread! (though I don't know where it started)

Stefanie said...

I've loved the blind date with a book idea ever since I first heard about it. So fun that you get to actually do it! Has it gotten a good response from your patrons? The display looks fantastic!

Lu @ Regular Rumination said...

So much fun! And a way to get people reading out of their comfort zone. Win win? Lovely job, Ana!

olduvaireads said...

What a fantastic idea of getting people to read different books!

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Jodie: It was the drawing of the question marks that seems to have impressed people the most :P

Heather: Thanks so much!

Too Fond: It's tempting, isn't it? We had someone cheat by partially unwrapping one and leaving it!

Laura: Yes, that's really the main thing I wanted to achieve with this. Of course that stops people from returning the books once they realise they're [genre they don't read], but perhaps once they take them home they'll more easily give them a try.

Kiirstin: Oooh, I love that idea! I can now say that it was a big success here as well - lots of great feedback and they disappeared in a few days! I had to wrap 15 more so we could keep the display up until Valentine's Day.

Renay: Thanks :D

Priscilla: I'm happy to report that our patrons really liked it! Maybe suggest it to your library? Every year the idea seems to spread a bit further.

Jenny: They went so fast that I had to do 15 more midway through the week :D

Noémi: Please do! It's lovely to see the idea spread.

Biblibio: Thank you :D

Laura: Ha - well spotted! I also had Looking for Alaska, which was snatched by an excited Nerdfighter. She told me she'd read it twice before, but the wrapping looked so cool that she had to take it home :D

Melwyk: I loooooove the rating sheet idea! I mentioned it to my boss and we're totally going for it next time :D

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Trisha: Aww! I had lots of help from colleagues, but a lot of books I'm enthusiastic about did make the final selection.

Debi: It was tons of fun, but yeah, that took a whole lot of hours :P

Nan: Aren't they? :D

Alex: Lots of excited comments as people took the books out - now let's see what they say when they bring them back. Hopefully not "you tricked us!" :P

Mee: I did, and yep, that took an ungodly amount of time :P I need to see if I can find question mark stickers for next time. I don't know where the very first display of this kind was either, but hopefully whoever thought it up is please that it has spread so far!

Stefanie! Yep - lots of lovely comments so far :D

Lu: Thank you <3

olduvaireads: I agree :D

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

This is such a beautiful idea!

gricel said...

Looks great! I saw a few posts on the date with a book idea and think it might work to draw attention to our summer reading list. Only problem is that our students tend to think that books on display are off limits... I always have to assure them that it's okay to touch, encouraged even :)

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Melissa: I wish I could credit whoever thought of it first! The fact that it's spread so far just goes to show how awesome it is.

Gricel: Yes, I definitely think it would work at any time of the year! And we've have that problem here too - people will come to the desk and ask if they're allowed to borrow from the displays. I wonder why that is?

Amy said...

This is so cool!