A public librarian walks into an academic science library

I've been busy with displays recently.  Not saying that academic libraries don't every do much in the way of book displays, but based on the reactions and feedback, it seems like the inspiration I've brought from working on displays in public libraries is greatly appreciated.  I'm not the wizard at displays that some librarians are, but I'm having fun.

First up - the new books space in the entrance way.  Books and their dust jackets part ways during processing, but we periodically get a big stack of dust jackets sent our way to do with as we wish.  Historically a selection has been displayed on an entrance-way bulletin board, and the rest given away or discarded.  I spent some time sorting and cutting apart dust jackets, then figuring out how to arrange them.  Getting everything up took a little monkeying around, but I had fun.

Previously the signage was plain black text on white paper, so I used extra book covers to make more colorful (if showing up poorly in photographs) signage.  It actually looks pretty awesome in person.

I'm actually pretty proud of how close to level the letters ended up considering this was a freehand effort.
On the opposite side of the entry way we have a small display case that I was also asked to populate.  The challenge here was height, only about 6" between base and lid, meaning I need books with engaging covers in a library that removes dust jackets.  The other challenge was what to even do for concept.  Being the classy and tasteful person I am, my mind went immediately to science pun/joke memes.

All part of a morning's work.
Clearly I dug deep for some of these.

Once I had the images I went and found books that matched the subjects of the jokes.  Of course, I grabbed too many books, but I expected that.

For the books I kept I made up little slips with the LC call numbers and subject headings to assist in finding related material.

Books & Science Puns:

[QD1-65  General chemistry]
  • The periodic table: a very short introduction / Eric Scerri
  • Chemistry: the impure science / Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent & Jonathan Simon
[QD450-801  Physical and theoretical chemistry]
  • The periodic table and a missed Nobel prize / Ulf Lagerkvist
"I lost an electron!"   "Are you positive?"
"Periodic Table -  I bet that bench is really unstable"
"You want to hear a joke about nitric oxide?"  "NO"
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate"

[QE 601-613.5  Structural Geology]
  • Active Faults of the world / Robert Yeats
Geologists: Masters of Subduction

[QC170-197 Atomic physics. Constitution and properties of matter
Including molecular physics, relativity, quantum theory, and solid state physics]
  • How to teach relativity to your dog / Chad Orzel
[QC793-793.5  Elementary particle physics]
  • Elementary particle physics / Brian R. Martin
"Einstein developed a theory about space, and it was about time too"
"A photon checks into a hotel and is asked if he needs any help with his luggage.  'No, I'm traveling light.'"
"The Cat in the Box by Dr. Schrodinger"
"Schrodinger's cat walks into a bar... and doesn't."

[QA1-939  Mathematics]
  • The joy of x: a guided tour of math, from one to infinity / Steve Strogate
"Math puns are the first sine of madness"

[TL787-4050  Astronautics.  Space travel]
  • Forever Young: a life of adventure in air and space / John W. Young
"We got here with a computer less powerful than your cell phone"

There are many other fantastic puns and science jokes that I could have included, but I like the range of topics included.

The other display I put up dealt with our cookbooks collection.  This one actually went up the other week, but it made more sense in my mind to talk about the displays in relative geographical order.

Cookbooks and books on food are fantastic for displays.  They often have appealing graphic covers, are of sturdy construction, and additionally are often beautiful to flip through and read.  The space I was directed to use for this display is one of the sets of shelves that new books live on.  Rather than use the whole shelf unit, I decided to use just one side of the shelves.  Makes for a more contained display and avoids massive loss of new book storage space.  With the end of year purchasing and all of that, the new books neared overflow before taking away any shelf space.

I had this cool idea to do a clump of books on different areas of food and cooking: history, culture, flavors, etc.  That totally didn't happen.  Instead I ended up with several armfuls of interesting food related books that didn't fit at all neatly (or evenly) into the different sub-category concepts.

So some shelf-shifting and sign making later, I put out a little display of mouthwatering books.  Even with this being the (extremely) slow season for this branch, the books are circulating, giving an opportunity to add titles.

So many delicious books...
Depending on how things pan out (temp placement extended/permanent job offer here or elsewhere/etc) I have ideas for displays come fall, including some sort of library scavenger hunt with clues in the entryway glass case.


  1. Thanks for featuring my book, A Very Short Introduction to the Periodic Table.
    More books and resources on the elements and the periodic table at


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