Why You Should Take Down Your Bulletin Boards

Do you have bulletin boards in your children’s library?  Yes?  Well you should take them all down.

I know this might sound controversial, but let me explain.

Over the last few years we have taken down all five bulletin boards from our children’s library. And I think it’s one of the best things we have done to save ourselves time and headaches.

Spring Bulletin Board

A lovely spring bulletin board…but how long did it take to put that up?

I truly hate to even think about how much staff time we were wasting each year decorating bulletin boards….but let’s go ahead and think about it…..

I would say it takes about 2-3 hours on average to decorate a bulletin board.  You may think that’s a high estimate, but consider that decorating a bulletin board involves:

  1. Finding and getting your supplies out
  2. Taking down the previous bulletin board decorations
  3. Covering the background of the board with paper
  4. Coming up with a new design and a witty (or not-so-witty) saying
  5. Finding the letters to spell out the witty saying
  6. Stapling everything up
  7. Adding a border
  8. Finding all of the errant staples that fell onto the carpet that you don’t want children to accidentally eat
  9. Putting all of your supplies away

And if you’re not using a pre-made bulletin board package, you have to create all of the artwork…that can take much, much longer!

Snowy Day Bulletin Board

I personally love this Snowy Day bulletin board. But it’s COMPLETELY made by hand – including the letters, little Peter, and the light post. I don’t even want to guess how long this one took to make.

So, back to the calculation.  If we were decorating five boards per month, that’s an average of 12.5 hours per month.

12.5 hours per month x 12 months = 150 hours per year

150 hours / 40 hours per week = 3.75 weeks

Almost ONE MONTH per year decorating bulletin boards? Think about it people. That’s time that could be spent helping kids find books to read, interacting with patrons, planning programs…or just taking a breather to maintain your sanity.

Chicka Chicka Bulletin Board

This one is seriously cool….and I’m sure it took some serious hours to make that tree!

We are all busy and over-worked.  So give yourself a break and remove something from your life that is unnecessary and time-consuming.  I promise, no children will cry that a bulletin board is gone.  My guess is that no one will even notice.

Dr. Seuss Bulletin Board

We now have a bookshelf where this bulletin board once was.

Still need convincing?  As librarians, aren’t our three biggest complaints about time, money, and space?  Well, we’ve already talked about saving time. Did I mention that you’ll save money too?  That bulletin board paper is expensive and so are the decorations. As for space, taking down a bulletin board can open up some pretty good wall space!

In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know that we did replace the five bulletin boards with one chalkboard (read our post about it here.)  It still takes time to decorate, but gives Mollie the chance to add some seasonal flair to the children’s room.  See?  Even we couldn’t go completely bulletin-board-cold-turkey. 🙂

Wild About ReadingWhat do you think? Will you consider taking down just one?

Update: Here are 10 ideas for bulletin board alternatives!

21 thoughts on “Why You Should Take Down Your Bulletin Boards

    • I completely agree with you that boards for advertising programs can be a great use of space. We have a small one specifically for program flyers. We’d eventually like to replace it with a tv/monitor that has a slideshow of our flyers. Someday 🙂

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    • I love it! What a creative partnership! I’m sure the students are so proud to see their artwork hanging in the library .

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  1. I don’t have any bulletin boards in my library and it is a real hassle. I end up spending hours using masking tape to put items on the walls, only to have them fall down or be annoyed by the papers flapping because of the air vents. I would do anything to have at least 1 bulletin board, and I have to say I’m jealous that you have the luxury to take them down. I do see how it decreases staff time, so that’s beneficial, but I’ve found it unbearable to have nothing. I use my walls to but up items for programs, things relating to class work (less expensive to make a big poster than printing 200 papers for everyone), as well as display artwork of my students. A fun tradition we also have in my library, prior to my employment, is laminating book covers and using them as artwork. The students expect this as well. On average it takes me 2 or more hours of decoration every few weeks.

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  2. Changing five bulletin boards every month does seem a bit excessive. Our children’s section of the public library is well-known for its creative, eye-catching bulletin boards, and patrons frequently comment on how much they love them. We change the 6 large bulletin boards twice a year, and they all coordinate with a common theme, at the reading level where they are located, i.e, Picture, Easy Readers, Young Juvenile, Juvenile, Juvenile Young Adult, and Young Adult. Yes, they take some time, but twice a year is not too onerous or costly, and it brightens up the children’s area so much, I can’t imagine not having them.

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  3. I’m behind this idea 100%!!! Bulletin boards are sacred cows to librarians everywhere. If you must have a bulletin board use it as a place young patrons can showcase their ideas. I’m hoping to remove 90% of our bulletin boards and replace it with slat wall so that we can feature books in cover-out displays. This will not only boost our circulation but colorfully decorate our library!

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    • Thanks Sue! I love the slat wall idea for book displays. I think it will look amazing and certainly boost your circ numbers. Slat wall is one of those things on my grand “wish list” 🙂

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  4. 5 Bullitin boards seems like a crazy amount! We only have two at my library, but I don’t think I could part with them. Creating the bulletin boards is what I do to relax during my down time, or when I need a break from weeding/shelfreading.

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  5. I only change the 2 bulletin boards in my children’s area quarterly (September, December, March, June). If I had to change them each month, then of course, it would be a big headache and very time consuming.

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  6. At our tiny, small-town library we have one bulletin board in our children’s area. Since becoming Children’s Librarian in April, I’ve used the space to hang our crafts/artwork from story hour. Kids can choose to take their art or leave it to be displayed (or sometimes it just gets forgotten). As the season has passed, we’ve just kept adding more and more on. Certainly not a neat and tidy look but it’s fun to look back and remember that it wasn’t all that long ago that there was still snow on the ground! I was just thinking I should come up with some cool Fizz Boom bulletin board but this post is inspiring me to use my time in other ways!

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  7. We converted our bulletin board to grid-wall display space, so we can quickly and easily create face-out themed book and material displays to go with an event or change of season. We can still use it to do some fancy decorating on (rare) occasions, and use grid -wall-compatible lexan sign holders to put up flyers and such when needed. It’s been a huge timesaver and much more functional than the cork bulletin board.

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  8. Yes they take time and money. You need some creative thought too but I’d rather change them less often and use more generic boards with posters and such than stare at any more institutional gray walls.

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  10. This is an interesting concept. I agree that bulletin boards consume a TON of staff time and resources (especially if you have several boards), but there can be other options for libraries who don’t want to do away with their boards completely. We have 5 bulletin boards in our children’s room and it was too much to work with, so we began “renting” 3 of our 5 bulletin boards out to a different local childcare center each month. The centers sign up for which month they want and create their displays at their site. We hang background colors of their choosing and provide them with tape and staplers. They bring letters, signs, brochures, photographs, their children’s artwork, etc., and hang the displays themselves. It helps to unite us with the childcare centers as community partners, makes less work for us librarians, and provides free advertising for the centers. It’s a win-win for everyone!

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  11. I am so forwarding this to my manager! We have one art show in March and that is it, so that would probably be the only time they are fully utilized. Why do we stress ourselves out with this stuff??

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