23 vintage posters about books and libraries

Take a look at this growing collection of vintage posters that encourage to read books and visit libraries.

No matter whether it’s the late 19th or the beginning of the 21st century, many people – especially children – need a bit of encouragement to reach for the book.

The posters you’ll see below were designed in most cases in the first half of the 20th century. You’ll see examples not only from the US but also the Netherlands or Poland.

Most of the posters in this list come from the Work Projects Administration poster collection – the first U.S. Government program to support arts and education.

What’s important, these great colorful vintage designs are available for sale in a resolution high enough to hang them on the wall – in a classroom, library, or reading nook.

We’d be grateful for sharing other examples of retro book posters, especially the ones that are non-English.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments or via social media and we’ll follow your advice.

20 vintage posters about books and libraries


Retro book posters: Be kind to books

Be kind to books. A poster designed by Arlington Gregg, printed by Illinois WPA Art Project, aimed at encouraging children to join book clubs. ⇢ Amazon.


Vintage book posters: Back to nature books

Back to nature books. A poster from 1910 showing a father and his sons reading a book in the outdoors. ⇢ Vintagraph.


Vintage book posters - Good books build character

Good books build character. A reproduction of the retro poster from WPA (Work Projects Administration). ⇢ Amazon.


Retro book posters: Books 1930

Books. A book poster from 1930, featuring a father and son onboard a ship filled with books. ⇢ Zazzle.


Father reading books to children

Father reading a book to children. An original print ad from 1946 encouraging to travel with the airlines of the United States. The headline goes: “I’m getting to know my children again.” ⇢ Amazon.


Geef een boek - give a book - a vintage Dutch book poster

Geef een boek – Give a book. A vintage Dutch book poster from 1958, designed by Kees Kelfkens, and featuring a cat sitting on a chair with a book. ⇢ Katten Kabinet.


Week van het Boek - A Week of the Book

Week van het Boek – A Week of the Book. A vintage Dutch poster announcing the book week, and showing a person with a stack of books. ⇢ Zazzle.


Retro book posters: January. A year of good reading ahead

January. A year of good reading ahead. Another book poster from a large WPA collection from the Library of Congress. Created and published for the fist time between 1936 and 1941. ⇢ Amazon.


In March read the books you've always meant to read

In March read the books you’ve always meant to read. A reproduction of the Work Projects Administration poster from 1941. A poster features a woman and several books by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, or William Makepeace Thackeray. ⇢ Amazon.


September. Back to work, Back to school, back to Books

September. Back to work, back to school, back to books. A reproduction of the Work Projects Administration poster from 1940. ⇢ Amazon.


September. Back to work - back to school, back to books

September. Back to work – back to school, back to books. A poster from Chicago WPA Art Project was first published between 1936 and 1940. It shows a boy holding a book in his raised hand. ⇢ Amazon.


Vintage book posters: October - a good time to read

October – a good time to read. A poster designed by Albert M. Bender for the WPA Statewide Library Project, and printed betweeen 1936 and 1940. It features a boy reading a book surrounded by the images of Halloween. ⇢ Amazon.


Vintage book posters: Miss Muffet reading a book

Miss Muffet reading a picture book. A poster created by Arlington Gregg for Chicago WPA project was aimed at promoting reading among children. ⇢ Zazzle.


Vintage book posters: These books are too good to miss

These books are too good to miss. The poster for Illinois WPA Art Project, designed between 1936 and 1940. The text goes: “Doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief agree… these books are too good to miss!” ⇢ Vintagraph.


For greater knowledge use your library often

For greater knowledge on more subjects use your library often. From Work Projects Administration Poster Collection at the Library of Congress comes the 1940 poster showing a man in a pose based on Rodin’s “Thinker,” and saying “For greater knowledge on more subjects use your library often!” ⇢ Amazon.


Vintage book posters - Book Week November 1930

Book Week 1930. A poster announcing Book Week to be held between November 16th and 22nd, 1930. ⇢ AllPosters.


Polish book poster from 1955: Books for Christmas

Books for Christmas. Original Polish book poster from 1955, designed by Eryk Lipiński. The text says “Książka najlepszym podarkiem świątecznym,” which translates to “The book is the best Christmas gift.” ⇢ Grafiteria.


Polish poster from 1955 - Book supplies for winter

Book supplies for winter. A poster designed by Gustaw Majewski, and printed in 1955. It says in Polish “Przywożę zapasy na zimowe czasy” (I bring supplies for winter times). ⇢ Grafiteria.


Retro book posters: Books wanted WWI

Books wanted. A WWI poster asking citizens to donate books to soldiers fighting in Europe. The text says: Books wanted. For our men in camp and “over there.” Take your gifts to the public library. ⇢ Zazzle.


Vintage library posters - The camp library is yours

The camp library is yours. Read to win the war. A poster published by American Library Association in 1917. The text goes: “You will find popular books for fighting men in the recreational buildings and at other points in this camp. Free. No red tape. Open every day.” ⇢ Amazon.


Vintage book posters: The vacation reading club

The vacation reading club. This poster promoting reading was created in 1939 for the WPA Federal Art Project. The title says: “The vacation reading club – join now at your public library.” ⇢ Amazon.


Chicago Public Library Week

Chicago Public Library Week. This poster showing a globe with a book on North America was designed to promote Chicago Public Library Week. ⇢ Amazon.


Chicago Public Library Curb Service

Chicago Public Library Curb Service. A poster for bookmobile service of the Chicago Public Library. Designed and printed between 1936 and 1941, as a part of the Illinois WPA Art Project. The text goes: “Curb service 10,000 current books – convenient, free, time saving.” ⇢ Amazon.

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