The Library that Cried Wolf: Outcomes of a Banned Book Hoax on Facebook


  • Sheila Kasperek Mansfield University of Pennsylvania
  • Bethany Messersmith Southwest Baptist University



In fall 2012, the Mansfield University library created a Facebook hoax banning a book from the library. Attention was quickly drawn to the book and the library. Ending a few short days later, the hoax left many unanswered questions. Through interviews with individuals on different sides of the hoax, a review of Facebook statistics and comments, and other relevant data, this paper explores the impact on the people involved, the learning outcomes achieved, and the impact on the reputation and credibility of the library and university. The information collected reveals a complex picture of feeling, perceptions, and intentions. While successful at gaining attention, the hoax strategy as employed produced a negative response warranting concern. The paper concludes with suggestions for those contemplating a hoax strategy.

Author Biographies

Sheila Kasperek, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Sheila Kasperek is an Associate Professor/Reference and Electronic Resources Librarian at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania.

Bethany Messersmith, Southwest Baptist University

Bethany Messersmith is the Information Literacy Librarian/College Liaison at Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Missouri.