Readers’ advisory (RA) comes in many flavors, and book displays are one easy way to provide indirect RA to patrons. For those patrons who prefer to browse and sample titles at their own pace, displays are a smorgasbord of recommendations they can taste at their leisure. So, how do you put together the perfect book display buffet?

Start with readers' advisory

Think about some common questions you get at the desk. Are there ways you can turn those questions into displays? For example, are readers asking about the hot new bestseller? Consider a read-alike display if they’re hungry for more of the same. Do caregivers often ask for books for different grade levels? "Thrilling Tales for Third Graders" or "Fourth Grade Favorites" may be displays that hit the spot.

Staff picks are a menu staple and for a great reason! Librarians love to share what they’re reading, and patrons love to know what the “chef recommends.” Displays of staff picks are wonderful ways for any staff to highlight their favorite reads. Readers may find a staff member who has the same reading taste as them and becomes their go-to person for recommendations. What a great way to build lasting connections with readers!

Mix in some creativity

Displays are a wonderful avenue for staff to show off their creative side. Are you an avid cook, shark week superfan, or cozy mystery aficionado? How can you take those interests and turn them into enticing displays like “Let’s Get Cooking,” “Fin-tastic Reads,” or “Subgenre Spotlight.”

Displays can also be a perfect opportunity to get punny! “I Just Can’t Help My Shelf” or “Sorry, I’m Booked” are clever titles that are also general enough to allow for easy restocking. You could pull from recently returned titles or hidden gems that haven’t circulated in a while but are still worth promoting.

Get creative with timely displays that tie into pop culture like this page-to-screen display from Newmarket Public Library or seasonal suggestions like Mercer County Library Systems’ spring gardening display or Bullitt County Public Library’s blind date with a book display. You could even create a book menu like Westover School Library did.

Having a hard time cooking up a new display each month? LibraryAware users can browse hundreds of display signs and book flyers for ready-to-go ideas.


Don't have LibraryAware? Here's a gift just for you! Download this free Winter Reading 11x17 book display poster.

Add a dash of product placement

It’s not always enough to have a sweet display idea and carefully selected titles to go along with it. You must make sure people can see and find it!

Think about the traffic flow in your library. Can you put table displays in high-traffic areas? Or places where readers sit or stand often? Do you have shelving that will allow for face-out displays? Take advantage of that.

Visit some local bookstores and get inspiration from their designs. Or put some “book snacks” near your checkout stations to entice patrons to grab one last item before they leave. Magazines, paperbacks, or recently returned items might work well here.

You can also think of displays as an opportunity to showcase other formats, programs, or resources. Book displays that contain a mix of formats and genres appeal to many types of readers and introduce patrons to something new. Consider including information or handouts about library events, resources, or grab-and-go kits. For example, if you have a gardening-themed display, promote your seed library or Backyard Habitat program along with it. 

Bake diversity into every book promotion

Celebrate inclusion year-round and ensure that all readers can find both windows and mirrors in your collection. Be intentional about including authors and titles from under-represented identities in all your displays, not just a dedicated few.

We have tools to help:

  • NoveList Plus can help you find inclusive titles for your promotions. Search by author characteristics such as author’s nationality, author’s gender identity, or author’s cultural identity to include perspectives of authors from a variety of races, cultures, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions. The character appeal terms in NoveList are a great way to find books with diverse characters and they include specific information about characters from marginalized identities.
  • Core Collections will help you identify the best books in each area to build and maintain a well-rounded collection. The Core Collections content specialists and collection development staff are committed to creating and maintaining collections that reflect the diversity of the human experience.

If you’re looking to dig deep into coordinating collection promotion efforts in print, on digital platforms, and in personal interactions with community members, you may be interested in bringing the Learn with NoveList live workshop, Collection Promotion Deep-Dive, to your library. Email us at for a free consultation.

Lauren Campbell is a NoveList Consultant. She is currently reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.