Library celebrates Banned Books Week with window-display featuring volunteers reading banned works

Adrienne sez, "We've created a 'live' Banned Book Display at our library [Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, VA]. We have volunteer readers who sit in the display and read (silently) banned and challenged books. So far it's gotten a lot of attention – we hear a lot of 'Mom, what are those people doing in there?' The best part has been hearing parents explain to their kids what the display is all about which is exactly what we wanted to happen!" Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, VA (Thanks, Adrienne!)


  1. Looks like a diorama from the Museum of Natural History. Could squeeze them in between Neanderthals and the Dodo bird.

  2. “Is that some betentacled creature in the bottom left, advancing on the poor readers?”

    It’s the dread demon of censorship. The highlight of the daily performance is having the readers fight it off.

  3. But why “Where’s Waldo Now?” I thought the “banned” Waldo was the original “Where’s Waldo?” (because of a beach scene where some of the females are topless)

  4. That’s awesome! I hope it’s a permanent feature… and that other libraries and organizations will follow suit. The old circus style sign looks great, too (brings the point home)!

  5. Excellent display! More libraries and bookstores should promote Banned Books Week in this fashion. It appears to genuinely start conversations about censorship.

  6. They ban books because of a few drawn nude female forms? What the heck?!
    I hate any kind moral police.

  7. Great idea. The public library here in Sonoma has put banned books on a table but this is such a great way to highlight the books.

  8. Brilliant! As a longtime FOOL (Friend Of Our Library, Newport, Oregon), I thought our buttons, “Be A FOOL” was a great publicity gimmick; but this live window display is pure genius. Libraries forever!

  9. @ #7 Hassan:

    You’re right! If I’m not mistaken that’s a simulacrum of His divine noodly appendage… IT’S A SIGN! THEY ARE TOUCHED!

  10. Awesome! Proud moment for Henrico… I love the art direction of the window as if these people are the outcast freaks of society, reading banned and challenged books as they are. Brilliant!

  11. Window design is a wonderful nearly lost art.

    It does look a bit like a diorama, or I was thinking one of those Boardwalk games with the talking fortune teller…. Lovely.

  12. Absolutely a beautiful thing…we’ve a bookstore here that makes it a point to carry copies of everything banned or challenged, and it’s sad to see how big the ‘collection’ has become.

  13. Hi Everyone-

    I’m one of the Librarians that put together the Banned Book Reading Room at Twin Hickory Library and I just wanted to let you all know how giddy we are about your comments. We have had a ton of fun putting it together and we’ve been so excited that it’s turned into such a success. We’ll have readers in the room through October 11th, so if you are in our area and would like to be a volunteer reader just stop by and ask for a reading shift.

    And for #7 & #9, the tentacles belong to the stuffed octopus from our Children’s Department. He sits in the chair and reads when we don’t have an available human. But I loved “the dread demon of censorship”…

  14. Absolutely wonderful. I can only hope this concept catches on. What I like the most is how well executed the display is. Great art, sensible setup. Also, the Fahrenheit 451 poster in the background :)

  15. Its become a big collection because its easy to get into.

    “Challenged” make up the majority of the list.

    And that means that someone, somewhere, has formally asked that the book be removed from a library or school curriculum. So we’re usualyl talking about what appropriate for kids, not adults.

    Not hard to qualify.

    Interestingly, wikipedia says

    “Robert Doyle, author of “Books Challenged or Banned in 2006-2007,” believes that challenges are just as dangerous as bannings themselves. Even when challenged books remain in schools and public libraries, the damage is already done, as attempts to censor can lead to voluntary restriction of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy (II).”

    That goes against the conventional wisdom that nobody should try to censor something because it will just make more people want the material.

    I’m also not sure why that constitutes “damage”. That requires a non-neutral assumption that all expression is of equal value.

  16. Can you have a younger balaclava-ed gentleman reading The Anarchist Cookbook for one of the shifts?

  17. Awesome graphic design, in-your-face (but polite!) showcasing of banned books, and literate octopi – I love it all!

    Former library worker here; we always did displays for Banned Book Week/Month, but never anything as cool as this.

    In the second picture on the library’s website, there’s a binder on the left with a big “Don’t Read This” label – I assume that’s the infamous List of Banned Books? More awesome.

  18. Sure, you lefty-pinkos are all for it now, but what will you do when your kids are reading that “fact”-based “book” about two gay so-called “penguins” raising a “chick”? What will you do?!

    I love scare quotes and using “so-called” to make real terms sound made up. If it weren’t for this pesky “conscience” I’d make a pretty good bigot. I’ve already got the flip-flops and wifebeater t-shirt. Plus, I was on COPS that one time.

  19. Thanks for everyone’s kind words about the display’s banner! I was the designer and installer. The librarian’s concept was fantastic and I was happy to do the work pro-bono, designing it to be produced in-house on the library system’s 32″ banner printer. Staging the room was done by the staff, and they did a wonderful job. Can’t wait for next year’s!

    ps @32: Nothing wrong with debating or discussing books. Challenging a book in the context mentioned here is a procedural step towards banning it, and you can’t approve of one without approving of the other …

  20. I love it! Sideshow freak readers, hee. Great work, Sijay, and kudos to the librarian for the idea!

  21. I love librarians. They are the anti-Sarah Palin; ie., they’re the ones who will save this country.

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