June 2015 was a strange and exciting month. I was weeks away from starting library school, my full-time library job was going great, and I had just been charged with co-leading a marketing committee for my department. Our first project? Setting up a display for Banned Books Week.
If you’ve ever worked in marketing, you’ll understand just how time intensive creating a plan from scratch can be. In the history of the college no one had developed a book display plan of action, or ever really set up complex displays, for marketing our collections. Color me crazy, but this was the kind of challenge I was excited to sink my teeth in.
This is what happened…
It all started with a plan. A Pinterest Plan.
I created a dummy Pinterest account for committee members to post and share ideas/images they found interesting and use them as talking points during our meetings. I added the first few pins as a way of getting the group started.
After the first two meetings, where we discussed the project and laid out ideas for the display, I was able to use the Pinterest board, plus notes and conversations, to build a rough marketing plan/proposal. The proposal included everything from an outline of outcomes and objectives to a promotional calendar and self-imposed deadlines for completing all preliminary work on the display. Without hesitation, we had approval for the display. It took three months before anyone had a chance to look over our proposal, but we still had approval. Summer in an academic library has a way of getting away from you if you’re not careful.
Our original plan called for several activities beyond the static display. We hoped to host lectures on censorship and book banned, then run a Friday “First Amendment Movie Night,” which had to be scrapped due to time constraints. But everything we asked for, and everything we needed, was given to us, (almost) no questions ask.
I can’t believe that happened.
As for the purpose of running a Banned Books Week Display, the name speaks for itself. We wanted to let our community know that the freedom to read is a fundamental right for all people and as a university, we were in the business of collecting books of all types, even ones with questionable histories. That and we wanted to let students know we were on Facebook and Twitter.
The list of items as requested included the following:
- 1 Ream White Card Stock ($14.99)
- 1 Roll Caution Tape ($5.99)
- 1 Letterboard ($37.50)
- 1 Letter Set ($11.38)
- 5 Banned Books Tote ($14.40/
Not only were we looking to create a display of books students could check out, but an interactive experience that would promote Banned Books Week, our social media pages, and show the larger community that the library was more than just books. We created the hashtag #BCReadsBannedBooks, and a Facebook Event to go along with the promotion. We also set up a booking wall for students to take their picture in front of with a sign that read “Caught Reading Banned Books” (something we discovered thanks to Pinterest) and the results were, in a word, brilliant.
If you search the #BCReadsBannedBooks hashtag you can see some of our student posts in front of the wall.
The experience of running a committee and trying to put on this display wasn’t always easy (more on that later), but the end results were incredible. We had a total of 23 out of 83 books checked out, our Facebook and Twitter followers increases, and we had a lot of fantastic compliments from members of the community on the display. We even had a write-up in the student newspaper a week before the event!
It was bittersweet breaking down the display. But I cannot wait to see what we pull off next!