I got the idea for genre shelf labels from another librarian in my district, and these signs are now on all my library shelves. She told me she found it in a book about library display ideas, but I do not know the title of that book. Where ever it came from originally, I cannot take credit for its simple brilliance; I am merely passing it along here.
For beautiful (and relatively cheap!) shelf display signs…
- white printer paper or cardstock
- laser color printer
- various fonts, clipart, Microsoft Publisher or other desktop publishing software
- clear book tape
- laminating machine
- vertical magazine files (see below)
CREATE YOUR GENRE SHELF LABELS.
MAKE A LIST OF THE GENRE LABELS YOU WANT TO CREATE.
Walk around your library to see what sections need to be broken up with signs. What sections never get checkout but would if patrons knew what was there? How do your patrons ask for books? For example, if they call domesticated animals “PETS,” then that is the wording you should use on the shelf sign. How can these signs help your students find books more easily, so they don’t always have to ask you? What types of signs will attract their attention or help unsure browsers make a decision before their class leaves?
Clearly, the number of possible signs is endless. Thinking about what your patrons ask for is a great place to start. Some examples of shelf signs I have in my library:
- Where’s Waldo/I-SPY
- WWI and WWII
- Ocean Life
- Fairy Tales
- First letters of authors’ last names in the Fiction or E sections (If the section is authors beginning with letter E, then that shelf sign would have an E on it. The pictures might be objects beginning with the letter E.)
CREATE YOUR GENRE SHELF LABELS.
I created my signs in PowerPoint, but Publisher or Pages would also work well. Use clip art, color, whatever you can think of to make them pop. The whole idea is to make signs that attract attention, so get creative! If you don’t have time, energy, inclination, or whatever to create your signs, mine are available on TPT.
Please note that the shelf labels I have on TPT are not the same labels pictured in the photos above. To avoid a potential conflict of interest, all my TPT products are created specifically for TPT and not for my school.
CUT AND LAMINATE.
I cut my shelf labels before laminating and again after laminating to lessen the chance of peeling.
TAPE THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF EACH LABEL TO THE LONG-SIDE OF THE MAGAZINE FILE.
The file will face long-side out on your shelf to mark the books on that shelf. I tape the top and bottom (rather than rolling pieces on the back) because the corners of the sign will curl over time and need to be replaced. I have had the best results using book tape to secure the entire top and entire bottom to the magazine file.
PLACE THE GENRE LABELS ON THE SHELF.
I experimented with putting the sign in the middle of the shelf, between books, but I found that they did not stay in the right spot and tended to slide around. For me, placing the sign at the beginning of each new row of books works best. I also try to place one sign on each row of shelves to denote what is there, even if that row’s sign is the same as the one above. It makes it easier to see that both rows contain books about “Outer Space” or whatever is there.
The shelf signs will take some time to create, so start small. Maybe only put signs in one section to start with, or choose ten sections that you want to better promote. Or, select sections that patrons constantly ask you to locate for them. I promise, the time spent creating the signs is well worth it and will save you time in the long-run since you can more easily point out popular sections to your students.