Banned Books Week 2012

Written by on April 23, 2013

Kennedy Library wins John Cotton Dana Award!

The prestigious John Cotton Dana Award is given by the American Library Association (ALA) to recognize “outstanding achievement in the promotion of library services.” Kennedy Library is one of eight winners of a $10,000 grant and likely the first inspired by 1980s glam rock.

I’m with the Banned

It was a delight to write our winning application on behalf of the amazing staff and students who created a memorable and interactive 2012 Banned Books Week (BBW) campaign.

Cal Poly’s campus philosophy is Learn by Doing. We didn’t just want to tell the story of banned and challenged books, we wanted to inspire people to engage in the story.

Here’s a summary of the campaign from our award application:

Print infographic designed by student Kate Johnson

Print infographic designed by student Kate Johnson

The I’m with the Banned campaign was designed to inspire community participation in Banned Books Week in three spaces: online, in the library and on campus. We developed a package of interactive events and designs for those three spaces and for the national library community, consisting of eight elements:

1) a participatory exhibit featuring print and hands-on infographics
2) craftwork reinterpreting banned book covers
3) an interactive website
4) shareable infographic
5) podcast and blog series
6) t-shirt
7) video short featuring students and
8) event with author and director Stephen Chbosky

Sharing stories with Stephen Chbosky

That large but emotionally intimate event brought more than 500 students, faculty, staff and community members to Chumash Auditorium to talk about The Perks of Being a Wallflower and issues of personal identity. The book has been added to banned books lists; for many reasons Chbosky was the perfect guest. Plus, our very own Victoria Billings interviewed him on stage. She also, together with the help of our media producer, Patrick Kammermeyer, made a video featuring Cal Poly students (below).

“The Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly inspired its students and others around the world to declare, “I’m with the Banned,”” said the news release from ALA. Indeed, we wanted to give everyone a backstage pass.

Banned books interactive outreach

The interactive webpage attracted more than 6,000 visitors.

Interactive website designed by student Glen Beebe

Interactive website designed by student Glen Beebe

Dozens of libraries across the nation linked to the site where visitors can still take quizzes to see how many banned books they have read and explore reasons why people attempt to ban books.

Close to the cause

Our two fearless Banned Books Week leaders, Kristen Thorp, student assistant coordinator, and Michele Wyngard, digital repository coordinator, launched the program with the help of a 2012 Freedom to Read Foundation’s Judith F. Krug Fund Grant. The grant was given to support the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.

Devoted bibliophiles, they set about reading the top 100 banned and challenged books from the last decade so that they could create a podcast and blog series, I’m with the Banned. In it, they explored popular themes in banned and challenged books. They focused on the difficult question of why there are movements to ban particular books. You can hear their podcast series right here on this blog.

Students and staff working together

Kristen and Michele worked closely with Conny Liegl, Kennedy Library’s web designer. Conny led the student design and development team: Glen Beebe, Fiona Fung, Kate Johnson and Alan Yeh, who together created the look and experience of the campaign. Due in part to Glen’s work on BBW, he was also recently recognized as Outstanding Student Employee of the Year at Cal Poly and in the Northern California and Western Region.

Photo of design team

Top image by student Fiona Fung, for Banned Books Week 2012. See more images and photos on Flickr.

The John Cotton Dana Award will be celebrated at a reception Sunday, June 30 during the ALA annual conference in Chicago.


Read the news release from ALA about Kennedy Library and the other John Cotton Dana Awards for 2013.


Read more on american library association, banned books week, and john cotton dana award.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.