The Book Graveyard

I wish that I could clearly recall how The Book Graveyard began. I know it was one or more conversations between Brittany and myself. Over the past few months we’ve been trying to turn the tide of damaged books that were being returned to the library. I think the breaking point was when there was something that looked like spaghetti sauce with meat chunks inside of a returned book.

We knew that we wanted to show the public the damage and destruction that we deal with on an almost daily basis. After all, when confronting a parent with new damage, the initial response (understandably) is to defend his/her child. We wanted to move beyond that and just show, hopefully in a both fun and informative way, damaged books. Where do books go when they die? A graveyard, of course! And wouldn’t that make a great October display?! And our graveyard was born.

I threw together the main tombstone so fast: it’s a cardboard box covered in crumpled silver tissue paper (matte side out), with crumpled cut-out lettering. I used this font for this and the smaller tombstones as well.

I found these fun Haunted Mansion tombstones and modified them to match up with some of the books that I had discarded in August and September. They all more or less rhyme, and hopefully teach people something new. To help parents and children drive home the lesson this display was trying to teach, we included free copies of coloring books that help children learn how to treat library books:

Here are a few more highlights from our graveyard:

“Sticky stuff like gum and food
Put librarians in a rotten mood.”

“With pages completely torn out
Fewer will know
What you were about.”

“It’s a favorite classic of old,
But it got wet and wavy
So it’s more likely to mold,
Time for it to go to the grave…y.”

“A puppy did
What puppies do best,
And now this book
Is laid to rest.”


“Pen on Page
Shortened its age.”


“Acid-free book tape
Was not used to mend
Your many rips and tears
Which led to your end.”

We’ve been delighted to see that people are really paying attention to our graveyard! Last week a mom even complimented on us and thanked us for our creative way to help teach her kids about treating books in a nice manner. Yay! I’ve heard many parents teach their children about what the display is and go over each book. And yes, just the other day, a mom was stunned to find out that those were really real library books that had been treated that way.

book grave


4 thoughts on “The Book Graveyard

  1. Pingback: No Such Thing : Sturdy for Common Things

  2. Pingback: Book Graveyard – Books That Have Had Their Final Checkout | Suebrarian

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