Back in the long long ago of my mid-twenties, back when I worked the jewelry counter of the local Wal-Mart, one of my responsibilities was the gift wall. We’d get shipments of stuff for Mother’s Day and Christmas that I’d have to set the wall with that would almost never sell and then I’d be stuck with it until the end of time because we had no storage space over there. Anyway. We’d get smaller amounts of merchandise for Father’s Day. It was my responsibility to fill out that merchandise for a four foot section of Father’s Day stuff. Which meant that I’d go around the store and get stuff from other departments.
One year, for shits and giggles, I put condoms on the gift wall for Father’s Day.
Not one member of management said a word. I don’t think they even noticed.
My coworkers loved it, though.
And so established my reputation as someone who should not be allowed to create displays without a strict mod to go by.
Had this reputation preceded me to the library, perhaps I wouldn’t have been put in charge of the main floor and periodicals displays when two of my coworkers left.
In a nutshell, my job is to create one big display, one medium display, two small displays, one front display, and three DVD/Blu-Ray displays. I make the selections, create the signage, all that fun stuff. They get changed out at least once a month, so I have to come up with themes/subjects. Sometimes the themes are easy to come by: Women’s History Month, Black History Month, Halloween, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. Sometimes I have to get more creative: National Nothing Day, Christmas Creeps, Pumpkin Patch (all of the covers were orange), National Hobby Month, Count von Count’s birthday, stuff like that.
And sometimes I get really clever.
For example, one February I did a love/hate flip side display with romances on one side and romantic murder mysteries on the other. I also put out a display of true crime books, just for good measure. Feel the love.
Speaking of true crime, both my Mother’s Day and Father’s Day displays included true crime books. My supervisor gave me shit for it, but they were the first ones off the display both times. I know my audience.
Which is why I push limits with some things. I live in a red county. How long before the locals complain about my Pride Month displays? Or complain about how it’s not fair that I’m doing big displays on Black History, Women’s History, Native American Heritage, and Asian Pacific Heritage, but not on White History or White Heritage.
(We did have someone complain about “Black History” books on display after February once. It was literally a new book on the new book shelf. Turns out that books by and about Black people don’t come out in just February. Who knew? Not this jackass.)
Some of my displays do better than others and sometimes I’m surprised by how well some displays do. For example, I was surprised my Christmas Creeps (Christmas horror) display didn’t do that well, but the Winter Solstice display did much better than I thought. I try to take note of that to see what people are looking for.
The library goal of my displays is to put books and DVDs/Blu-Rays in front of people that they might not otherwise look for on their own. Get patrons to expand their horizons.
My personal goal with the displays is to find opportunities to be as aggravating as possible, even if it’s just to needle my coworkers. Or to see what I can get away with. Like the time that I kept Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly out on display three months in a row, just to see if I could.
I don’t think anybody noticed. Which is very encouraging for me when I think about the things I could do.
There is a pun display in my future. Oh yeah. I can feel it.
I should never have been put in charge of displays.