Mao "on hold" as library poster-boy in Minneapolis


David Rothman writes "The good folks at the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library have dropped Mao Tse-tung from a fund-raising campaign, at least for now. So says Dawn Flinsch, campaign coordinator, who tells me Mao is “on hold� out of sensitivity to citizens’ concerns.

Let's hope he stays purged from the campaign serving up the images of famous librarians. Public libraries face enough challenges and don't need wacky campaigns like this one from the "buzz"-fixated Andrews/Birt agency. Mao was a butcher. Imagine A/B pushing Coors by showing Adolph Hitler as a happy beer-drinker. Is Mao harmless because he killed yellow-skinned people--not Caucasians--by the millions. Besides, if A/B wants to take on civil liberties issues for real, there's always the ever-so-deserving Patriot Act.

The good news is that the A/B effort shows real flair and could do much better simply by substituting Bunny Wilson, played by Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set. Who would you rather get homework or job-hunting help from--Kate or Mao Tse-tung? More at TeleRead."


Coors is an awful>. They may as well be pushed by Mao.

Minneapolis (like several of its peers)is spending too much money building a big ugly albatross of a central downtown library, while cutting programs, staff, and hours at many of its branch libraries.

Trying to counter public criticism of the "new" building, they do this:

What do Chairman Mao Tse-tung, J. Edgar Hoover and Batgirl have in common?

A hint: the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library (FMPL) are posing the intriguing question as part of a quirky campaign to preview the Spring 2006 opening of Downtown's New Central Library.

Minneapolis design firm Andrews/Birt created the campaign for free, according to Colin Hamilton, FMPL executive director. Posters, bookmarks and print ads - in space donated by local media - will debut in May.

The first of three ads will compare the former leader of China to the future New Central Library. What's the connection? China sports the world's third largest economy, while the library claims the nation's third largest collection of books (per capita.)

It's a stretch, and a little weird, but it made us look, and that's the point.

"We want to pique people's curiosity and get some buzz," Hamilton said. "If we had a million dollars to spend, we could do something straightforward. We have zero dollars. To get attention, we need to challenge viewers."

Early reviews were mixed, according Hamilton. "Some were amused, some were intrigued, some didn't get it," he said.

So? Do you get it? The Mao/Hoover/Batgirl implication is that all three were librarians, but it's not exactly true. Batgirl was head librarian at Gotham Public Library prior to her career as a crime fighter. Mao Tse-tung became a convert to Marxism while working as a librarian at Beijing University prior to launching a communist revolution in China.

Hoover was never a librarian, but worked as a clerk at the Library of Congress while pursuing a law degree. Hoover would have made chief librarian, according to biographer Curt Gentry, but he quit in 1919 to take a position as special assistant to the Attorney General, where, coincidentally, he directed raids against Communists. As you may have heard, he later worked for the FBI. (Skyway News)

Of course, what this ad agency twit thinks of what we do is completely off the beam. Such idiocy does nothing to promote a positive image of libraries or librarians.

They could have included Elvis. Much cooler. (Hint: no TV movies about Mao lately.) Elvis was in the library club at his high school in Memphis. (There was an article about it in American Libraries or Library Journal once.)

Or Casanova.

But Bunny Watson is my hero. Best movie librarian ever! And the issue -- human librarians vs. computer databases -- remains topical.

Mao as a librarian? Does this mean that "Prompt book return grows out of the barrel of a gun?"

there is one featuring casanova, also.