Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update




« Conference envy - maybe not | Main | Is screen time a problem? Depends on your source »

BFTP: Library murals - a pet peeve

I was once visiting one of our elementary libraries in my previous school district where I saw a sketch of a mural that was to be painted on one of the walls that summer. The main character was Mouse from Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, illustrated by Felicia Bond. I asked the librarian if she had permission to use this character in the mural. She didn't know. I advised her to check.

Common characters from children's books are not uncommon to find painted on library and school walls. Do a GoogleImage search on "library murals" and you will find:



So what's the big deal? I just wonder how many of these schools and libraries got permission to use these copyrighted images? My guess is few or none.

Do we really need to worry that Theodore Geisel's heirs will starve since the estate won't be collecting royalties? Could this use of images be covered by "fair use" provisions? Does the larger goal of getting kids to read supersede intellectual property law?

All debatable, I suppose.

But such use bothers me for more pragmatic reasons...

  1. What is the message about intellectual property use we are sending to students? It's OK to be a scofflaw? 
  2. What is the message we are sending to parents about how our schools respect copyright law? Do you have parents in your district who make their living from their creative work?
  3. Are we showing disrespect for our local talent in not using local artists to display their imaginative work? Could personal visual images of Harry Potter or Paul Bunyan or Jo March be as good an inducement for reading as Charlie Brown or Super Diaper Baby? Should we honor our local authors, artists, stories and legends? 

I love going to my schools where local artists have created some truly wonderful art for decorating the walls and hallways. 



I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you have local talent that would put original, interesting, local images on your walls that would get kids excited about reading and respect copyright laws. 

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Original post June 4, 2013

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (3)

Or leave blank space to display student work!
That shows we respect and appreciate what they’re creating!

June 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLori June

Thanks, Lori. Wonderful alternative!


June 19, 2018 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I inherited a mural with characters from many children's books...and while it looks nice, it drives me insane because I know it should not be there. I said my piece (peace) when I first arrived on the scene and insist when pictures are taken in the library that the mural is not in focus. The current art teacher understands, but they don't listen to her either. She is a muralist and I would love for her to put something original up, or like Lori said, student work...

June 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterElaine Carter

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>