Favorite Books Come to Life in RU READS Campaign


Provost Sam Minner was among the many university administrators, faculty, staff and students who participated in the RU READS initiative.

Inspired by the American Library Association's popular READ celebrity poster series, Radford University this week launched RU READS, an initiative featuring dozens of colorful posters displayed across campus. Each poster portrays a student, administrator, faculty or staff member in the context of her or his favorite book.

Among poster subjects are Katherine Hawkins, dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, seated amid spider webs and candelabras to capture the essence of her favorite vampire story, and Mark Shanley, vice president of the Division of Student Affairs, standing atop the world like the title character on the cover of his favorite book, "The Little Prince."

"We wanted to focus on nonvocational reading," said Steven Helm, dean of McConnell Library, which designed and implemented the project. "Everybody in the faculty and administration reads lots about higher education and his or her field, but we wanted to focus on what you read in your spare time for fun, what transforms your life or makes your life better. We want to show that people from all walks of life are avid readers."

Helm describes RU READS as "a poster series that celebrates the joys of literature and reading. The posters inspire people to read, and that's a wonderful thing,"

The initial idea came from Provost Sam Minner, who proposed it to the McConnell Library Advisory Committee in fall 2011. "Colleges and universities are all about learning, and reading has been and continues to be at the heart of formal and informal learning," said Minner, who is featured on a poster with his favorite book, "The Summer He Didn't Die."

To find poster subjects, organizers sent notices across campus asking people what they like to read. The result was 60 posters being showcased on RU's digital signage system and displayed on easels in a rotation system.

And what is the library dean’s favorite book? "It’s like asking which of your kids you like better," Helm said. For his poster, he finally settled on Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

"Pirsig's poignant book resonates with me on many levels," Helm said. "He contemplates the nature of quality, both in conduct and engineering, presents layers of dualities and struggles with his past within a seemingly simple narrative of a father and son motorcycling across the great American landscape. I love this book!"

For more information about RU READS, contact Bethany Mott.

Mar 14, 2012
Keith Hagarty