First things first. I’m going to share my favorite READ poster:
Alan Rickman. And I like that he’s reading The Catcher in the Rye.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I agree with Professor Lankes about the posters. Although Alan and Yoda are awesome, and show that yes, reading is fun, someone could put “Eat Broccoli” on a poster, “Exercise”, or any other activity, and someone out there will relate to the celebrity, and think it’s a fun activity. Because, to me, that’s the overall point of marketing–use celebrities to sell something.
I like the quote on page 74 of The Atlas of New Librarianship, “Fiction is every bit as empowering and radical as any manifesto.” In large political revolutions, the books are usually the first to get burned or banned, and the writers who speak out get in trouble by the government. Because they are the ones asking difficult questions, or using poems and newspaper articles to inspire change. They are living their lives by “Ask” posters, as Professor Lankes suggests, and creating action, not just digesting information.
I agree, that power does not have to be on a large political scale. But power could mean that a shy student now feels confident voicing their opinion in class, because while they read, they came up with an interesting question they want the answer to. Small individual change, can have a large impact. And giving individuals power, is ultimately our goal–by giving them the tools and information to give themselves ways to improve their lives.
So maybe to get more people to go to the library, we should instead put verbs like “Ask”, “Travel”, “Change”, “Help”, “Inspire”, and “Create”. Because, that’s what conversations around fiction, and the information in the library, do. But that’s more difficult than printing new words on posters. Because a lot of people do feel like a library is a neutral, unbiased place, full of quiet books and quiet people. By putting new words on posters, we would have to think differently about the purpose of a library. Most people do think it is just a warehouse of information, and not a warehouse of the possibility of so many types of new conversations. Besides librarians, I would venture to say that not many people associate the library as a place of action. And would people be receptive to thinking about the library this way?
I’m not sure if changing the posters would be well received. I don’t know if there’s an answer to that. But I do know, that we need to encourage people to do more than just acknowledge that Professor Snape likes to read, too.