Heal this book: reversing vandalism


For Duf by Dacey Hunter

Morning Stories, a weekly podcast of stories from ordinary folks, aired Heal this book in December 2005.A   This podcast is about an art exhibit that the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) did with books that had been damaged by a homophobic and misogynistic patron. From the transcript:

This person used the card catalog and did a subject search and found books about gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, books about H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. and books about womenà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s health issues generally. And some false hits à ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ almost comical thingsà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ a book about the Enola Gay, a book by Peter Gay, so this person was determined.

The SFPL invited people to make art out of the books that were vandalized:

In the early months of 2001, San Francisco Public Library staff began making grim discoveries in the book stacks at the Main Library. Shoved under shelves and hidden from public eye were vandalized books, ranging from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender topics to womenà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s issues and books on HIV/AIDS. Staff collected over 600 badly damaged books. The torn and slashed books were deemed beyond repair and withdrawn from the Libraryà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s collection. The offender was eventually caught and charged with a hate crime.

I recommend looking at some of the art pieces while you listen to the podcast. This project is powerful, transformative, and beautiful.


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