Teen Interns Get Innovative with Display Ideas at VA High School Library

Librarian interns at Western Albemarle High School use hot glue gun, metal washers, super magnets, and creativity to display student artwork in the library.

Enlarged prints by students at Western Albemarle High School are brightening up the stacks. Photos by Sydney Dell & Melissa Techman

As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Staying true to this theme, we channeled simplicity into an innovative display method for our library at Western Albemarle High School (WAHS) in Crozet, VA, where we are students. Educators often want to display student creations, but struggle with how to hang artwork on painted concrete walls like the ones in our school library. Sticky putty and tape are temporary methods, but they don’t last, and bulletin board space runs out very quickly. So at the WAHS library, we are using a new display method. It is a simple solution to the difficulties of showcasing student artwork.  All you need are engineer print enlargements, a hot glue gun, metal washers, and super magnets.

Materials needed for the super magnet display method.

Promoting student expression, especially through artwork, is one of the most important things at our library. In order to implement that, we had students submit photographs or other 2-D art to be enlarged. Our enlargement method is the engineer print, which is similar to a blueprint. These cheap prints can come in black and white or color. The company we are currently using is Parabo Press, an online store connected to PhotoJojo. We love working with Parabo Press because of their discounts and flexibility with schools and billing. We submit student pictures, many of which are taken with iPhones, and they come back as huge, beautiful, and vibrant prints. There can be some fuzziness and pixilation when viewed up close, but it’s hardly noticeable when put up on a wall.  However, when we can, it is nice to get high resolution photographs, (preferably a 300 dpi image), before we enlarge.

Putting up an enlarged print.

In order to hang our newly enlarged pictures, we use small super magnets (neodymium) and metal washers. We buy 1/8-in x 1-in washers and hot-glue them to the wall. Next,we hold picture in place by putting the super magnets on top of the washers. The company we used initially for the magnets is GoodHangups. Their system, Magnastickers, can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond and online, but we found washers to be a cheap alternative.

Super gluing metal washers to the wall.

This super magnet approach also makes it extremely easy to change out pictures. All you have to do is remove the super magnets, replace the old picture, and stick them back on! This method provides an easy way to display wonderful artwork and brighten up a library, or any space. Our library doesn’t have any windows, so it’s great to have nature photos up on the walls to bring in the outside. When a meeting was recently held in the library, a school board member complimented the colorful, high-quality prints. The WAHS community loves the beautiful pictures, and students are proud to see their photographs prominently displayed in the library.

Pinning up the prints with super magnets.

The idea for our new display method came to us during our yearlong internship in our school library. Supervised by one of our school librarians, Melissa Techman, our official title is Library Communications and Outreach Interns. As part of our internship, we update the library’s Twitter account about upcoming events and post student artwork, we launched a blog, and we brainstorm new project ideas. Next year, we plan to display more student-created 3-D artwork and paintings on small wooden shelves lining the back wall of the library. This super magnet display method has been our biggest project yet.  We have had a really great experience helping bring this idea to life, and brightening up our library in the process. Walking through the library and seeing the colorful prints on the wall always brings a smile to students and faculty. Being a library intern has been such an awesome experience this year. It’s a great program to be a part of, and presents us with so many amazing opportunities, like writing this article. We’ve also been invited to Houston next year to speak on a panel for the National Council of Teachers of English. We definitely recommend this kind of internship program to school librarians, because student’s ideas and projects can help improve any library or school.

Photography student Amanda Carroll’s picture brings beauty to the library.

Students studying under a landscape pictures by student Shane Matthews.

    Claire Aminuddin is a sophomore at Western Albemarle High Sschool in Crozet, VA. In addition to participating in band and track, she is a leader in the WAHS Mental Health Committee and president of the Wellness Ambassadors Club.     Peyton Beaumont is a junior at WAHS. She is active in drama, works part-time at C-Ville Escape Room, and worked as a paid intern in the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.  

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