A few weeks ago I pitched the idea to our book display committee at work (yes, there is actually a committee for that) to do a display based around the writers attending the two big book fests in the area: Virginia's Fall for the Book at George Mason University and the National Book Festival located on the National Mall in downtown D.C.
The whole concept of displays in libraries has really changed in recent years. Once upon a time, it was a tool librarians would use to bring out so-called shelf-sitters and get people checking them out again. Nowadays it's seen more as a way to promote new material or point out that we have books or authors that are hot. This is mostly a reaction to competing with the book chains and how they display books. There's quite an inferiority complex going in within public libraries right now.
I would have thought the bookfest idea a simple idea to sell to the powers that be, but it took some convincing. Part of what they want with displays are themes that make it easy for anyone to hunt down and grab copies for restocking purposes. Since the festival displays are author-specific, it means there's a little more work involved. You can't just go to the mystery section and grab a bunch of stuff. But really, the festival display is kind of a gimme. I'll be surprised if lots of people don't look at it and pull books from it. It will have a wide variety of fiction, genre fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and mostly big names. George Mason University is a short ten minute drive from our branch and I know a good number of our patrons are going to both fests----there's hardly a week that goes by that someone does't mention one or the other to me. Really, anyone who reads should go to them if they can.
So today I submitted a partial list of authors we have books of in our branch that are in good enough shape to put on display.
Fall for the Book (9/23-9/28)
Rita Mae Brown
National Book Festival (9/29)
Edward P. Jones
Joyce Carol Oates
N. Scott Momaday
Gene Luen Yang
So now I have to go-ahead. It'll probably go up a few days prior to Fall for the Book starting. If I'm inspired I'll take a photo when it's up.
Now I just need to convince the committee on the local author display I want to do, which will probably be a tougher sell. But it's something I really want to do. I plan to do as much as I can (which at this point is not much) to promote and support local writers. It seems to me they are too often ignored as a great resource. At least in library system I work for.