About 130 years ago, a smart London advertiser had an innovative idea: Attach a famous face to your product and increase sales. He approached Lillie Langtry, the legendarily beautiful British actress who was also the reputed paramour of royalty. With a little coaxing - and a healthy payment - Miss Langtry agreed that her likeness could appear in advertisements for Pears Soap. History remembers this event as the first time a celebrity was paid to endorse a product, and it ushered in a new age of promotion.
In 1980, ALA began its highly successful Celebrity READ poster series, showcasing some of the most recognizable faces in the nation. Those READ posters still continue today, featuring familiar people from literature, music, television, music, sports and politics, each holding a book they love. The popularity of those posters has grown over the years, providing libraries of all sizes with the distinction of being associated with someone whose image lends a special status to the library that nothing else quite equals.
Today, libraries of all kinds are more focused on advocacy than ever before, so ALA developed an initiative in 2010 called Our Authors, Our Advocates . This initiative takes the concept of notable people endorsing libraries in a new direction, emphasizing that authors, in particular, are the natural allies of libraries in challenging times. For this initiative, ALA has enlisted passionate, enthusiastic and notable authors to speak out on the importance of not only sustaining but also increasing support for libraries. For more information about Our Authors, Our Advocates, visit http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/mediapresscenter/presskits/oaoa2010/index.cfm
But the idea doesn’t stop there. ALA has also developed this What’s in a Face? Cultivating Your Local Notables toolkit for libraries of all sizes and types to develop complementary initiatives in communities all over the nation.