Although the old adage of never judging a book by its cover is worth bearing in mind, what about judging or not judging a book by the shelf or furniture on which it sits?!
I was reading a blog post about a book shop in Australia. They reported that they’d replaced two aisles of cheap metal bookshelves with wooden shelves and interestingly found that there was a twenty percent increase in sales from the stock on the wooden shelves over the six months following the change. The blog post suggests that the timber has a particular warmth that made people feel comfortable when browsing in those aisles and so they spent more time there and ended up buying more.
This got me thinking about the importance of our surroundings and how something as simple as shelving in libraries or bookshops can have such an impact on how people feel in those spaces. What subliminal messages do tired, old and frequently wonky shelving send to users of libraries? Obviously there are cost implications in the kind of shelving a library can invest in but there’s nothing to stop us using shelving imaginatively rather than in straight and predictable lines. I found some wonderful photos of innovative use of shelving that inspired me to think about my heaving bookshelves at home and how space can be used creatively and attractively to invite people into libraries and make them exciting places to spend time in – and that’s before you even get to picking up a stimulating book!