Monday, January 5, 2009

To display or not to display? Always display methinks.

Back at work today and I spent a good part of the morning putting up the new display for the library based on a Chinese New Year theme. Living in HK, it is an integral and important part of the life here.

When I do displays - I do big displays. We have a big space, with alot of windows and walls - no noticeboards yet. I have big stuff hanging from the ceilings, I do big pictures,(thanks to Block Posters) I have rolls of fabric, boxes of big items and the library becomes the theme. It lives and breaths it. Our first display was big - Halloween, then Christmas and now CNY - it will be followed by Valentines day, Dr Seuss's Birthday, Book week - I have not planned any further ahead than that yet. I am blessed that I live in the land of cheap props and I do appreciate this fact. However, the displays are not yet as big as I want them to be, they will grow over time as we source and make more props (and my assistants get a better understanding of what it is all about). I mean if it is good enough for Disneyland to do big displays - then only the best for our students!

After I spent the morning dangling from very high ladders hanging giant red lanterns (12 in all), some year 8 students came in to find some reading material. I asked one of the males - do you like the lanterns? His reply - "what lanterns??" He obviously did not think it was important enough to why do I do it? Why do I allocate a significant sum of money and time to the library displays?

Displays create an atmosphere, gives the library life. Colours and stimulus are part of what we crave as human beings. With the display continually changing but not too fast, it is a reflection of the life outside of school, and allows for transfer - what is inside is outside, what is outside is inside. It is all connected. It is also of course an opportunity to showcase different literature - this month will be focused on China, its culture, festivals, traditions, folk tales and the country.

Displays are also an opportunity for teaching moments - as part of the display are snippets of information about the festival, or theme, so that the students can learn as they inquire.

I used to have a retail business, where I would set up shop to sell my wares (which were books incidently). If I had a good display it would attract the attention of the consumer and they would linger longer. Library displays make the space inviting, and ensure the students linger longer.

Display's pique interest in the theme. This months theme prompted a question by a young student - "Why do the Chinese use lanterns so much?" A teachable moment.

I love when the students walk in and go "Wow, this is great", and the crowning statement from a year 8 girl - "I love the library, you always make it so interesting to be here" That is why I do displays!

Want to see? It is all on Flickr


Anonymous said...

We are doing the same! But the library at BISS is much smaller so it won't turn up as beautiful...
I agree that displays bring out the bests in Libraries. Once I made a display a bout feminism is an all-boys school and of course some of them had funny looks but a number of them got interested and picked up the books, asked questions and reflected on some issues. I thought it was a success!
Ana Cob (TL at Beijing BISS International School)

Mr. J said...

Hi there
Can you post some photos of you displays.
They sound great and I'm looking for inspiration.

Dianne said...

Hi Alan,
Have a look at the last sentence, there is a link embedded in the word Flickr which will take you to my Flickr account with the photo's.