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Student curators celebrate the freedom to read with "Scandal in the Stacks" exhibit

Published Oct. 2, 2014
By University Libraries
Top photo: Jessica Dai, MLIS student


The “Scandal in the Stacks” display at Thomas Cooper Library could easily have been called, “I didn’t know that book was banned!” The display, located in the library’s lobby through October 19, brings attention to Banned Books Week, an annual American Library Association observation. 

“Almost everyone who stops by the display is surprised by some of the books that have been banned,” said Jane Olsgaard, Outreach Librarian. “Some people might not realize that some of the childhood classics have a background of being banned at some time, somewhere in the world. For example, Harriet the Spy has been challenged for presenting a bad role model for children. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was challenged because illustrations in the story, about a town and its animal inhabitants, depict police officers as donkeys and pigs. And To Kill A Mockingbird has frequently been challenged for use of offensive language and racism.”

“Scandal in the Stacks” was put together by graduate students in the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA), a student organization at the School of Library and Information Science.

“We loved the idea of partnering with student organizations to showcase what the library has,” Olsgaard said. “It gets the students ‘into’ our collection, where they can learn what we have and how to use it.”

In addition to learning about the University’s circulating collection, students learned the nuts and bolts of putting together a display.

"The student curators are Victoria Atkins Slessman, Megan Coker, Jessica Dai, Lindsay Hall, Laura Kotti, Sara Leady, Alice McMahan, Nicole Oderisi, Addison Rankin, Lindsay Rogillio,Travis Wagner, and myself,” said Taylor Atkinson, who is LISSA president and also works in the reference department at Thomas Cooper Library. “We are all in the master’s program in library and information science (MLIS)."

“For the majority of us, this was the first time we've created a display, at least of this magnitude,” said Atkinson of the eight-case display. “It was great hands-on experience for us to be able to execute the display from start to finish, beginning with the initial brainstorming process and ending with a satisfying glance at the filled display cases.

"As future library and information science professionals, we are dedicated to providing access to all information, which Banned Books Week emphasizes," she said. "We're hopeful this display will be both educational and enjoyable to visitors of the Thomas Cooper Library. It's surprising how many popular and well-loved books have been banned. So check out ‘Scandal in the Stacks!’ You might be shocked to see some of your favorite books on display.”