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Library Displays

Homeschoolers and libraries usually have a pretty fruitful relationship, with homeschoolers taking full advantage of library materials, programs, and space. Another way the two can collaborate is to educate the public about homeschooling through library display cases, tables and other exhibits. Almost all libraries have display cases or tables that are in busy corridors and rooms, available free to the public. Often, librarians are looking for people to use them. Homeschooling is a topic of both local and general interest, making it the perfect candidate for these types of displays.

How to Book a Library Display Case or Table

Booking a display at a library is simple, yet requires planning. Simply look on the Internet or in the phone book for the address and phone number of the closest library branches. It is a good idea to visit the library before requesting a display case or table. Once you arrive, determine what display areas exist and which one you prefer. (Research has shown that people drift to the right after entering a store. Books on display near a front desk check out 100% to 300% more frequently.) Then ask for the person who is responsible for booking the displays.

Once you contact them, ask them what display areas are available and when. Some are booked 2-3 months in advance, while others are available immediately. It depends on the size and location of the case or table and the popularity of the branch. Cases are usually booked one month at a time, from the first to last day of the month.

Ask if you can publicize the display in the library newsletter or calendar.

If you can’t set up a display case or table, ask the librarian about having a small permanent display of the 12" x 18" “Meet Massachusetts Homeschoolers” poster and "Considering Homeschooling” brochures that AHEM can provide for the library to maintain on an ongoing basis. You can also see if they are open to such a small, ongoing display after you dismantle your case or table display.

What To Put In Your Display

The main goal of the display is to get attention, arouse curiosity, and make passersby intrigued enough to check out a book or take home a pamphlet. Your main goal is to create curiosity.

There are a number of components that you can combine to create this effect. These include:

  • Flyer - This is a great place to include an ad for your local support group.

  • Books - Include copies of homeschooling books that are in the library’s collection so that people can check them out. You can search them online from home before you go and print out a list ordered by call number, making it easy to collect the books and check for them over the course of the display. Use "Home schooling” (two words) as a subject search term and limit the search results to the specific library. Alternatively, go browse in the 371.042 and 649.68 sections. If your display is in a case rather than on a table, you can include your own personal books. 

  • Pictures, drawings, or a collage about homeschooling to draw attention to the display. This might be something your kids would like to help with. 

  • Positive press clippings from local or national news you may have on hand. 

  • “Getting Started Homeschooling” pamphlets* - Stock just outside the case so people can walk away with one if they like, as well as displaying one in the case or on the table in case the ones to take away run out.

  • Business cards* (AHEM will supply and/or supply your own.) 

  • Quotes* - Quotes or excerpts about homeschooling that get attention and spark curiosity (Print out on colorful paper and cut out in eye-catching shapes.) 

  • “Meet Massachusetts Homeschoolers” poster* (You may want to mount this on firm poster board for easier displaying.) 

  • Title banner* - “Home’s Cool”

*AHEM will supply starred items.

How to Set Up and Maintain Your Display

Now the hard work is complete, let the fun begin! Since each display is different, from size to style, it's challenging to fill and decorate it. It's a good idea to bring some cleaning products to prepare the case or table for your display. It may already be clean, but you never know. Leave the case or table better than you found it so that they invite you back. Bring along tape, a stapler, tacks, and anything else you need to hang and hold the items in place. Make sure you know the back wall’s material if using a case, since this influences how things can be hung.

If you have the time and inclination, consider these tips for making your display really special. But a simple approach is still valuable!

  • Start with a tablecloth.

  • Books facing out is always best if possible. Ask the librarian if she has book stands you can use in the display.

  • Add lighting to your display. Illuminate displays or use something reflective – glittery fabric, ornaments, mirrored surfaces, attention grabbing elements. Illuminated displays receive twice the attention of nonilluminated.

  • Add objects to the display — interesting take out containers, toys, pails, flowerpots, blocks, garlands, etc. Go to discount stores, garage sales, local farmer’s markets, your attic, your basement, your closets, your garden! There are ideas and display materials everywhere!

  • Add an interactive piece – acrostic poems, Ad Libs, a guessing jar, I Spy, some sort of participatory activity.

  • Use color to group items. (Studies have shown that people browsing book covers by color tend to like blue, consider white informational, brown serious, and they avoid red.)

  • Use all types of materials and don’t be afraid to mix adult, teen, and children’s together. Keep displays “loaded” –fill any holes as soon as you can.

  • Readability is key, then add ornamentation.

  • Color contrast improves readability and can set the tone or add style. Ranked most readable to least combinations:

    1. Black on yellow

    2. Black on white

    3. Yellow on black

    4. White on blue

    5. Yellow on blue

    6. The smaller the letters, the more contrast is needed

Good Luck!