American Library Association

Jose Quezada, 12, reads a Naruto graphic novel while waiting for dismissal at Cedar Creek Middle School Thursday afternoon. UT Libraries has joined the READ promotion in which they’ve distributed posters of UT mascot Hook Em  reading in various settings to 655 schools encouraging students to read more.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Posters of Bevo and Hook ‘Em reading on the beach, in a chemistry lab and at the stadium have filled the libraries at local schools, encouraging kids to pick up a book and read.

UT Libraries joined the American Library Association’s READ promotion to produce four posters of the UT mascots. They have been distributed to 655 schools in the Texas Education Agency’s Region XIII area since mid-September.

UT Libraries spokesperson Travis Willmann said once the posters were distributed and the images appeared online, he began receiving positive feedback and requests for posters from teachers, librarians and UT fans. He said more than 50 teachers asked for posters during the first week of distribution.

“As soon as we put it out there we got a good response through emails and Facebook,” Willmann said. “We had somebody contact us from as far away as Colorado Springs to find out how she could get the posters.”

Dixie West, a librarian at Cedar Creek Middle School in Bastrop ISD and a UT alumnna, said receiving the box of posters to find her mascot was a nice surprise. She said she emailed UT Libraries to express her appreciation.

“The first one I saw was the one with the band, and I was in band at UT so it just made my day,” West said.

West said the posters fit well with the middle school’s initiative encouraging its students to pursue higher education.

“Each teacher has the college they went to on their door, and we have posters for universities up in halls,” West said. “We encourage higher education of any kind, so things like this are great.”

Boone Elementary librarian Tina Shands said the faculty at her school also show their collegiate pride to emphasize the importance of higher education.

“Even though we are an elementary school, we want them to be college-ready,” Shands said. “The kids will recognize Bevo and UT, and it will definitely encourage them to read. They love them.”

Willmann said the current posters are available online as free downloads, but if the interest increases, full-size posters may be sold to reach other schools outside the region.

The READ promotion, which began in 1985, frequently features celebrities and actors. Willmann said the positive response to the mascot posters could lead to others featuring celebrities associated with the University.

“We didn’t go with a celebrity. We thought the mascots would be cost-effective and didn’t anticipate such a positive response,” Willmann said. “We have a wish list in mind of some UT alumni we would like to get in contact with. We would also like to get suggestions from students.”

Printed on Friday, October 12, 2012 as: Libraries use mascots to promote reading

Graduate student Rebecca Halpern reads passages from Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” on the South Mall in honor of ALA’s Banned Books Week.

Photo Credit: Victoria Montalvo | Daily Texan Staff

[Corrected Sept. 27: Changed spelling of Jessica McClean]

When Information sciences graduate student Jessica McClean was in high school, she read J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” — a coming of age story that was once the most censored book in U.S. high schools.

One of her friends had to leave the room while the class read parts of the novel.

“She had to read a different book because her mom thought it was so inappropriate,” McClean said.

McClean and other literature lovers from the School of Information celebrated “The Catcher in the Rye” and similar banned books in the South Mall Monday night during the American Library Association and Texas Library Association’s Banned Books Week Read-Out.

They discussed formerly taboo subjects such as homosexuality and racism.

The UT ALA/TLA chapter brings students interested in libraries together through other events such as trivia, bake sales and the library crawl. The organization also offers networking opportunities for those interested in becoming librarians.

Members brought books ranging from Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” to Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” all of which had been banned at one time, and some of which remain banned in various schools.

UT ALA/TLA co-director Anna Fidgeon said some of the books were challenged, meaning someone requested that the book be taken out of public and school libraries, while others were banned outright.

“I think it’s important to read banned books to sort of bring attention to different ideas that maybe someone doesn’t agree with,” Fidgeon said. “It’s always good to have both sides.”

Fidgeon said she encouraged members to bring their favorite banned books to the read-out, but she also brought a stack of her own books with highlighted passages that contributed to their banning.

Members debated the ideas of censorship and shared personal experiences about reading banned books in schools.

Those who brought their own books read their favorite passages and discussed the ethics of banning books, especially in the case of children getting hold of them.

The books discussed were banned for containing sexual content, religious viewpoints, language or for being inappropriate for a particular age group.

The Insider, the School of Information’s electronic mailing list, received a protest email before the read-out. The email, addressed to “fellow iSchoolers” said, “The ALA’s Banned-Book Week is a charade intended to grossly exalt the unlimited circulation of any book; no matter how outrageous, shameless or vile.”

The 2011 banned books list contains classic titles as well as some more recent titles, including Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series.

Many in the group concurred that banning books is not an effective or appropriate way to censor the information we take in as a society.

“[By banning books] you’re not just deciding what’s right for you and your family,” said information sciences graduate student Kathryn Kramer. “Who are they to decide what someone else’s children see?”

Printed September 27, 2011 as: Students commemorate previously banned books