San Francisco Public Library

Response to Project

vandalized books The Reversing Vandalism exhibition took place in three venues at the Main San Francisco Public Library from January 31 through May 2, 2004. Filling the Jewett Gallery on the lower level, the Hormel Center on the third floor, and inaugurating the new Grove Street Entrance exhibit case, this was the largest exhibition ever undertaken by the San Francisco Public Library.

The exhibition was organized by the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center in conjunction with the Library’s Office of Exhibitions and Programming, supported by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Response to this project was, and continues to be overwhelming. Media coverage and individual interest has indicated that this innovative project generated unprecedented and unforeseen community involvement.

Public Programs

“How Communities Can Transform Hate Into Healing” – On Tuesday, February 17, 2004, in the Library’s Koret Auditorium, panelists spoke on how community groups can come together and transform violence into a healing experience.

“Reversing Vandalism: the Art of Altered Books” – On Saturday, April 10, in the Library’s Koret Auditorium, participants presented the history and the art of altered books.

Radio Programs

On Thursday Feb 12, 2004, KQED Forum host Michael Krasny invited four guests to discuss the Reversing Vandalism exhibition.

On Saturday, April 10, 2004 KTVU Rosy Chu’s “Bay Area People” hosted Mary Marsh and Jim Van Buskirk to talk about Reversing Vandalism.

Related Documentary

“Not in Our Town III: Northern California Resists Hate,” a documentary featuring Reversing Vandalism as one of several responses to hate crimes throughout Northern California. Produced by the Working Group, the documentary is scheduled for PBS broadcast in spring 2005.

Related Exhibition

Insight Out: June 4 – July 5 Warehouse Gallery, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Conceived and curated by artist and former San Franciscan Mary Bennett, Insight Out is an exhibition of 44 works by Santa Fe artists using the remains of books destroyed by a vandal at the San Francisco Public Library. Apparently the vandal chose the books because of their topics, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues; HIV; women's health; and mixed parentage. The exhibition features well-known Santa Fe artists including painter and feminist theorist Harmony Hammond and MacArthur award-winning sculptor Tom Joyce, as well as many others.

A color catalog of all the works made for the exhibition can be purchased for $28 (includes shipping) by sending an email to