How the library uses monthly displays to promote reading and social awareness


@thebishopslibrary on Instagram

Women’s History Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month are just two of the holidays the library has celebrated through displays.

Being on campus means a number of things for the Bishop’s community: it means skirting the quad in the morning, it means eating lunch again in the cafeteria, and it means studying in the library. As you entered the library after school or during a free period, you may have noticed the displays that crop up each month on tables or bookshelves across the library: displays for Black History Month or Purim or numerous other holidays. All are part of the library’s effort both to encourage students to read and to ensure that Bishop’s has a socially informed student body. 

“[The goal of the library] is to nurture a culture of reading,” Library Assistant Mrs. Jennifer Warner explained. “Kids get so busy in high school; they often don’t have time to read for pleasure anymore, which is tragic,” she said. Indeed, according to an Instagram poll, 28 out of 84 students (33.3%) “almost never” read for fun, and another 20 out of 84 (23.8%) indicated that they only read for fun “at least once a month.” The other two options were “at least once a week” and “almost every night.”

The Bishop’s library has wide resources: resources that expand beyond the number of books on the shelves. Mrs. Warner explained that the physical books on campus make up a fraction of the total library due to the number of ebooks and books from other locations that they can get access to. 

The library has also been working to lower the number of required reading books for summer reading. “Getting kids to read for fun reinvigorates their love of reading,” Mrs. Warner explained. For that reason, the staff organized readathons over winter break and spring break to try to keep students’ brains active even while not studying. 

Books also have the power not simply to entertain the reader, but to inform them. “I think reading is huge for the mission of equity and justice and inclusion,” Library Assistant Mr. Brandon Warner (no relation) said. “It informs you…it gives you wider perspectives, so you’re more accepting and compassionate to people.”

Throughout Black History Month, in addition to physical displays, the library Instagram (@bishopslibrary) posted selections of book recommendations surrounding Black joy, Black heroes, and Afrofuturism, indicating which were available in the library.

During Women’s History Month, the library posted the books of female authors who have visited the School to speak over the last few years, including poet Naomi Shihab Nye, climate scientist Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, social justice scholar Jamila Lyiscott, psychologist and Holocaust survivor Edith Eva Eger, among others. They also created a physical display on healthy masculinity. “That’s not directly related to women’s history month, but boy is it important,” Mrs. Warner said. 

“We have a pretty diverse population here,” Mrs. Warner said. “[The library] should be representative of the population we’re serving.” (@thebishopslibrary on Instagram)
The library does an impressive job of creating displays for day-long holidays, as well as less well-known ones. These include National Coming Out Day (October 11), Día de los Muertos (October 31-November 2), Korean American Day (January 13), Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service (January 17), Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), and

International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11). On Grandparent’s Day (a celebration unique to Bishop’s), they made a display of books about relationships between grandparents and grandchildren. 

“We have a pretty diverse population here,” Mrs. Warner said. “[The library] should be representative of the population we’re serving.”

Mr. Warner also noted that the library “tries to make [displays] responsive to the things that are actually happening.” He explained, “If there’s an issue that’s coming up in the student body… we’ll try to cater our displays to that because that’s when people need the information.” He also explained that they respond to globally consequential events, such as the war in Ukraine. “We want to provide… creditable quality sources…so that you’re informed on the issues.” In addition to a library display, they created a bulletin board on the topics page for students to access helpful resources.

They collaborate with different parts of the Bishop’s community to bring these issues and events to light. For example, March 20, 2022, was Nowruz, an important Persian holiday that celebrates the Iranian new year. When the librarians were creating a display, they brought in a leader of the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA) with knowledge and experience with the holiday to consult on it. “We worked on the traditional Haft-seen display,” the student, Senior Nadia Bitar, explained. “It is an arrangement of seven items beginning with the letter seen, which is the equivalent of the letter ‘s.’”

They also work to collaborate with the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) organizers to create consistency for students across what they discuss in DEIJ and what they might read about. 

“In my view, a major role of the library is to be at the forefront of providing information about… social justice and marginalized communities, providing resources and providing education,” Mr. Warner said. “The entire mission of the library is to educate us and to help us work toward a better society.”