Friday, August 04, 2006

Should Librarians dump Mel?

Mel Gibson has behaved like a cockroach. Already known for his homophobic statements, under the influence of alcohol and an arresting officer, he's come out of the closet as an Anti-Semite as well.

Mel Gibson is also a poster boy for the American Library Association's Read campaign (since 1984).
Poster boy

"Should they dump him?", asks Karen G Schneider over at The Free Range Librarian. She says "yes". In the poll at LISNews about two thirds say "no" and one third say "yes".

The arguments centre around whether ALA is endorsing Mel's other opinions when he endorses their "Read" campaign. Do they want to be associated with his views? Should they use his celebrity power and appeal to people who otherwise wouldn't look at their library?

A look at ALA's online store shows that there are also "Read" Posters of Brittany Spears, Bill Gates, Colin Farrell, Kiera Knightly. Personally, I find the Indigo Girls, Tim Robbins, Melissa Etheridge and Yo Yo Ma posters very appealing, but know that some people would have real problems with the lifestyles or opinions of some of these.

Maybe an association that sells an "I read banned books" badge, isn't in a moral position to ban one of their own posters due to slimey beliefs of the person in it? (But, is the logical extension of this that they should actively go out and find people with a wide range of views...even offensive..for their campaign?).

I like the approach of the University of Wisconsin law librarians, who created a series of "Read" posters featuring UW Law Faculty members. Or the Lansing Public Library, who has a series of Read posters featuring prominent local citizens like the Fire Chief or the Youth Centre Director.

I think the Australian Library and Information Association got it right with their poster promotion. See their "webcards" page for more. Who needs Mel, when you can be associated with a super-purple-cosmic-librarian ?

The super-purple-cosmic-librarian.


Deanne said...

Ooh, where can I get me a poster of Tim Robbins? lol

I like the idea of 'Read' posters with local people on them, especially if it might surprise locals to know the person reads.

As for Mel... he even looks surly in the poster, like you better read what he's reading! The poster has an ironic look to it now too - like maybe the message isn't from Mel but for Mel. :-)

I'd be concerned that people are turning off to anything Mel has to say, and that could limit the effectiveness of the poster.

Kathryn Greenhill said...

Yes, I thought the same thing. "Read" looks like a directive to Mel.

Local "surprise readers".....Let's see....Pauline Hanson, Bec Cartwright and Lleyton Hewitt, Ray Martin, the cast of the Chaser, Bob Downe, Jamie who won Big Brother..the list really could keep growing.

Mmmmmmmm....Tim Robbins.....

Kelli / IT Dept. said...

Hello from Lansing, IL!
We've been shocked at the popularity of our posters. A few people not included in the original group contacted us because they wanted to be on a poster! We even had a request from one of the local school librarians for extra copies of the posters to hang in the school library! One of the featured local celebrities asked for a copy to hang in his son's room (he posed with their favorite book they read together). What a great message for a young boy, Dad Reads!

Kathryn Greenhill said...

Definitely a step in the right direction if admitting to reading is something cool and inspiring.

I think it's great the way you're acknowledging the local community as your heroes.