Monday, October 20, 2008


Anyone with a class or a computer need this week will discover that the library elves have been up to their mischief in the computer lab. READ posters now glitter the walls like dewdrops on fresh morning leaves! Perhaps you would like to admire them, or maybe you'd like to know a bit of Read poster history? Well, READ on!

Posters promoting reading and libraries date back to 1919 when the Children's Book Council produced the Children's Book Week posters (more word on these from SLIS later...). Following, the first National Library Week poster was created in 1958 under the direction of the publishing community.

The American library community finally decided to take matters into their own hands and promote, promote, promote. In the mid-70's, ALA hired a big Chicago public relations firm and a Chicago advertising agency. ALA's first promotional poster, produced in 1980, featured Mickey Mouse and a simple message: "Read". After Mickey came another poster with the same message, this time depicting a controversial yet alluring Miss-Piggy-turned-Marian-the-librarian, standing atop a stack of books whilst shelving.

Suddenly, the library world was creating quite a stir for itself. Posters of Annie, Yoda, and Snoopy followed shortly after. In 1985, ALA got the hook-up to sign on some live stars-Bette Midler, Sting, and Bill Crosby. And the rest is history. It's interesting to know that each ALA READ poster features an original illustration or photograph, and not one celebrity has demanded to be compensated for their time or image.

Interested? READ more about it! To find out about READ posters, I found a great article in American Libraries' May 2003 issue called "Mickey Mouse, Miss Piggy, and the Birth of ALA Graphics." The article is written by Peggy Barber, who was on the original ALA staff when READ took off. She shares the history of the promotional campaign and the lessons she learned about libraries, marketing, and celebrities. To see today's line-up of celebrities reading, visit the ALA store at

It seems you haven't made it in this world unless your face is on a READ poster. And today, yours can be! ALA now produces CD's with the software and graphics necessary to customize your own READ poster image-already a hit with public library summer reading programs!

If you'd like, you can e-mail ALA Graphics with poster and product suggestions at

-BW, 10/19/08
Imagine from:
Barber, Peggy. "Mickey Mouse, Miss Piggy, and the Birth of ALA Graphics."American Libraries. 34, 5 (May 2003): 60.

No comments: