Thursday, April 6, 2017

Interactive Displays in the Library by Constance Vidor

Inspired by some of the new directions in museum displays, I’ve been developing my own interactive library displays in order to experiment with different modes of learning in this space. Here are few of my ideas for interactive displays. I think they could work in many different kinds of libraries--maybe you will work for you!

Poetry Month:

I found poems from nine different countries (in English). I printed them out on small posters with the flag of the country and a map of the world showing location of each country. I'm inviting classes to come through and collect a favorite word or image from each poem, and then see if they can create their own poems from the inspiration of those collected words.

An alternative activity is for students to pick a favorite poem and then research the country and create an Acronym poem about that country using the country's name for the Acronym and facts from their research in the content of their poem.


To celebrate a particular holiday or theme, invite groups of younger and older students to read aloud to each. Choose books carefully that are easily read-aloud-able by a middle school student and that will appeal to a lower school student. Consider including books that are easy enough for a lower schooler to read aloud to an older buddy (place a red dot or other indication on those books).  Consider themes that will encourage students to create a small piece of art-work or word-art in response to the book. For example, a Read-in that celebrates “Values and Virtues” might ask students to read to each other books that show various good values, then create a postcard that says what value they saw in that story. Post-cards or other art can be displayed around the library. A Read-in that celebrates the accomplishments of particular culture group could ask students to write the name of the person they read about and what that person accomplished. Use colorful paper and pens or markers.


To celebrate various picture book awards, photocopy illustrations from a variety of award-winning picture books. Try to choose illustrations that are all the same size and page orientation. Photograph and print out those illustrations (no more than one from any one book) on card stock. Laminate, and cut into 5-7 pieces. ALL pieces should shaped exactly the same. Students will be re-assembling the puzzle pieces and you want them to use only the cues from the art itself, not from the size or shape of the puzzle pieces.

Place just one piece of each page-puzzle in each location around the library---on the ends of book stacks or on any empty wall space you may have. Place a lump of sticky gum in each location.

You will distribute baggies with puzzle pieces to students. Each baggie should have at least 4 puzzle pieces from four different pictures. Students must look carefully at the art in order to match their puzzle pieces and post them in the right places using the sticky gum.

Second step is for students to identify the books from which their illustrations were taken. Have a large display of award winning picture books out and available. Students will enjoy paging through them to find “their” pages.

This is a fun way to get students to explore a wide range of picture books and make close visual observations.

QR-Code Explorations:

Black History in 20 Objects: For Black History Month a few years ago I found pictures of 20 different objects that represent moments of pride or achievement in black history (an image of Ruby Bridge’s leather school satchel; an image of the Academic seal of Wilberforce University, the first university owned and operated by African-Americans:  an image a flag that was carried by marchers on the Selma to Montgomery Freedom March are some examples). I printed each image of heavy card stock and posted the images around the library. Each image had its own QR code, which led to a page describing the meaning of the image.

Groups of students were invited to come to the library in pairs. On first entering, each pair was given a worksheet with 20 thumbnail images. Walking around the library, students were asked to identify or make guesses about the significance of each object. After completing the worksheets, students were given ipads with QR code reader applications. They scanned the codes and read the texts aloud to each other.

Inspiring Quotations: This year for Black History month I worked with our Director of Diversity to select inspiring quotations by civil rights leaders and other changemakers. I created craft packets of black lined paper, glo-pens, and silver or gold paint markers. Each middle school student chose a quote, copied it in pencil (so the teacher could check it for accuracy), then traced over it in gold or silver and decorated the border with glo pens. The completed quotations created a beautiful display. I posted QR codes around the library that led to a single padlet page with post-its giving information on each of the authors of the quotations. Students viewed and discussed why they chose the quotation that they copied.


Invite classes to come to view and discuss some short films. You can get some great discussable films from  Can you work with a club or a class to have students help you to create a “Film-In,” in which students select short films and create discussion guides to go with each? Students could then help set up the library for a Film-In with laptops bookmarked with different short films and two headsets connected to each laptop with a splitter. Classes may be invited in to rotate around several of the films and discuss them or complete the activities created for them.

Constance Vidor, Director of Library Services, Friends Seminary, New York, New York

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