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May 12

Guest Author - Library Displays by Barb Van Kuiken

Posted on May 12, 2020 at 3:17 PM by Lindsey Kult

Library Displays
by Barb Van Kuiken

Winter 2016 Display Photo

I love Pinterest. It’s a place where I get inspired. It’s where I go for cooking, crafts, and cuts – haircuts, that is! When it comes to cooking, I can be totally healthy OR I can totally fall off the bandwagon. When I find a cute cut, I can say to my hair stylist, “Can you make me look like this?” (Did she just roll her eyes?) When we’re about to enter a new season, I can peruse homemade greeting card ideas and transform them into huge displays for the library. But this article isn’t really about Pinterest…

Almost nine years ago I walked into the Howard Miller Public Library and asked to fill out an application. I was hired and began working in August, soon after the summer reading program had ended. Some of the staff had begun to set up a “Back to School” display in the built-in shelving units behind the circulation desk. When it came time for the next seasonal display, there were some groans and faces and words like, “What are we going to do?” I have always loved art and drawing and offered to put up a display. Their groans and faces turned into cheers and grins! Ever since that day, I’ve been planning, creating, and assembling displays for the “cubbies” in the library, AND enjoying every minute of it. When that time rolls around, I get energized!

How did I get interested in art? I remember as a kid always enjoying working with paper, pencils, crayons, clay, Play-Doh, Silly Putty (is that still around?), watercolors, scissors, rulers, colored pencils, markers, and more. These items are like candy to a person with a sweet tooth (I also have one of those). One day I began drawing profiles and made some pretty fantastic characters with the biggest teeth you ever saw. I showed my mom and grandma and they laughed until they cried (almost). It’s like that today – I enjoy the creative process and final product, and then I like to see the enjoyment it brings to others.

Sometimes library patrons comment on the displays, and other times you just see them looking up at them. It’s really fun to watch the kids. One time a little boy said something like this, “Mom, those librarians don’t know how to count. It’s supposed to be 1, 2, 3.” It was a New Year’s display for 2013.

2013 New Years Display Photo

Some of my personal favorites are the summer reading displays. Because they stay up for the entire summer, they are usually the most elaborate. I never know how the display will turn out or if it will even work. I had an idea to use black light for last summer’s Universe of Stories theme. One staff member had some black lights at home. She and her husband helped install them. Another building staff member helped place heavy cardboard on top of the “cubbies” as a type of awning to keep the lights focused on the display.

A Universe of Stories Display Photo

It is unclear when the library will be open to the public again, but I hope I can continue what has become a tradition for me, and I hope it will continue to bring joy to you! For now, enjoy Spring Abstracts - 2020:

Abstract Art Display Photo