Exhibits and displays are booming and in demand at all types of libraries. From simple displays of books to full-scale museum-quality exhibitions, library exhibits can highlight collections that surprise visitors, tell stories, and engage audiences in innovative ways. Often, exhibits feature more than books—showcasing art, photographs, archival materials, multimedia elements, as well as hands-on activities. Stepping outside traditional walls, digital exhibits reach audiences beyond the circulation desk and pave another way for libraries to share information, promote resources, and even lead change in the community.
Despite the growing interest, most library and information science (LIS) programs do not include exhibit development courses. It is not uncommon for librarians learn exhibit production on the job or through resources in the museum sector. Wearing many hats, librarians absorb exhibit work as part of community outreach initiatives, or take on exhibit duties as a general professional interest in the emerging field. Exhibits & Displays is a practical how-to guide that helps librarians unleash their library’s potential to engage and wow visitors.
The guide explains how to kick-start and grow an exhibit program through expert advice, insights from professional literature, and winning case studies that cover exhibition development from conceptual planning through de-installation packing and evaluation.
Exhibits & Display: A Practical Guide for Librarians covers:
· Curation and content development
· Project management
· Graphic design and writing for readability
· Preservation and collection care
· Legal considerations and loan registration
· Installation/de-installation and maintenance tips
· Hands-on interactives and digital exhibits
· Educational programming
· Audience evaluation
· Supplemental examples and case studies
Librarians in academic, public, school, and special libraries will benefit from Exhibits & Displays: A Practical Guide for Librarians. The book is also an excellent textbook for LIS courses covering exhibition development and outreach.
Carol Ng-Heis an award-winning art library and museum professional who served as the exhibits coordinator at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Illinois. She has written book chapters and articles on a broad range of topics relating to art education and visual learning in higher education, libraries, and museums. Ng-He has served on various committees at the Art Libraries Society of North America. She holds an MA in art education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is an MLIS candidate at San Jose State University.
Patti Gibbons has three decades of experience preserving cultural heritage materials, developing exhibitions, and registering loans in library and museum settings. Currently she is the head of collection management at the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center. She earned an MA in museum studies from the University of Washington and an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois, and graduate certificates in special collections librarianship and philanthropy & nonprofit administration. Gibbons is the author of the book The Modern Kiteflier, and she has published several chapters and articles on exhibition best practices, book preservation, and library science topics in textbooks and professional journals, and she is the co-editor of the “Special Libraries, Special Challenges” column in the journal Public Services Quarterly.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Show It! Why Libraries Create Exhibits & Displays
Chapter 2. Plan It! Setting the Stage for Success
Chapter 3. Tell It! Know Your Audience & Find Your Story
Chapter 4. Write It! Text & Labels
Chapter 5. Build It! Physical Exhibits & Displays
Chapter 6. Bring It In! Loan, Traveling, & Pop-up Exhibits
Chapter 7. Click It! Digital Exhibits
Chapter 8. Engage with It! Programming & Interactives
Chapter 9. Market It! Publicity & Promotion
Chapter 10. Assess It! Audience Evaluation
What a generous and helpful book! Reminding their readers that libraries are free, public, and well-used, the authors point out that they are perfect places for exhibits about books and anything else that will excite and educate people. Not stopping there, the writers also suggest that everyone can learn to make wonderful displays and then proceed to offer guidance to exhibit development that will be useful in all settings. I love the book’s vivid and approachable writing—‘Underlining text is clunky and sort of ‘screamy’’—and direct messages—‘Variety is energizing.’ But best, to me, is its can-do attitude—Yes, you, make an exhibit!—and presumption that exhibit makers should be concerned with their audiences. Exhibits must engage, the authors assert. And their book is a good guide toward that goal.
The kind of practical advice found here will be useful for any librarian hoping to create and curate exhibits or improve current ones. Advice by librarians, for librarians, is the best kind; I first became aware of Carol Ng-He’s interest and expertise in library exhibits when she contributed a successful article to the ILA Reporter journal. These Illinois librarians have thought of everything exhibits so readers don’t have to, from why and how, to promotion and programming around exhibits, to assessment.
Exhibits and Displays is particularly useful for those who are new to developing exhibitions or who work in an institution that is formulating a program of exhibitions for the first time. From planning to implementation, Ng-He and Gibbons offer clear steps for creating exhibitions effectively. They also remind the reader that a successful exhibition extends beyond the physical display to marketing, programming, and assessment.
This comprehensive book will be a welcome resource for librarians planning exhibitions. It covers everything from creating and installing to programming and assessment for exhibits of all sizes in every type of library. The authors draw on their years of training and experience with a variety of library exhibits, including small pop-up displays, traveling shows, and digital exhibitions. Case studies, vendor recommendations, and resources for further reading are also included.
Whether you are new to library exhibits or have years of experience, Exhibits & Displays: A Practical Guide for Librarians is an informative and useful resource. This comprehensive step-by-step guide covers everything librarians need to know to plan and implement high-quality exhibits that engage, educate, and inspire. Case studies from a variety of libraries illustrate best practices and provide valuable professional insights. From pop-ups to digital initiatives to traveling exhibits, this book provides the tools to launch a successful exhibition program that meets your library’s needs.