What Are Words For?

Everybody loves ALA’s classic celebrity READ posters. And for good reason. Multi-age, culturally relevant celebrities inspiring multi-age people to read books and get literate. They’re popular and possibly even effective. Still, the READ poster is alone in its work. It wants a family. It needs siblings.

Libraries continue to evolve and struggle against their own underrepresentation. They seek ways to break the mold. The READ campaign advocates literacy and promotes the library as a literacy center or, from a non-LIS perspective, a place to get free books. But isn’t that the very stereotype we’re trying to conquer? For all the good the READ posters may do toward promoting literate communities, they may concurrently, from a library science point of view, perpetuate the traditional stereotype of the library as “a place to get free books.”

LEARN. PLAY. CONNECT. ENGAGE. CREATE. These are the sibling marketing terms that libraries and ALA should advertise along with the classic READ poster. These are the terms that help represent what libraries are all about. What terms would you like to see on that ALA poster at the bus stop?

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About Steven V. Kaszynski
librarian, editor, contributor

3 Responses to What Are Words For?

  1. jan w says:

    I never thought of it this way, but I think you’re right. I do semi-regular art and music programs at my library. I’d love to see ALA do a CREATE poster or something that promotes education through creative outlets like arts and music. Those are all good words to use for marketing. Of course, I still like the READ one, too.

  2. Pollyalida says:

    Great idea, let’s all grab our graphics software and make our own! And definitely would be great if ALA did some official ones.

  3. Ben says:

    [heart]! Just that list of words is great, and I’d encourage people to print them out (READ included) and hang ‘em over your desks as inspiration. Or, even better–why not make it a goal to plan at least one program, service or event over the next year built around each concept? I love checking off boxes, don’t you?

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