The next question in the survey was about a new “brand statement” that read as follows:
The Library provides access to knowledge, experiences, and learning for all. We preserve and create opportunities for the people of Seattle who make it such a dynamic and desirable place to live. When we’re empowered as individuals, we become STRONGER TOGETHER.That statement—and THOSE CAPS—confirmed my fear that the second thing is happening, the thing where the library blows a bunch of cash to appear relevant in a corporate world of sleekness/soullessness/sadness.
What they point out is that most of the money for this "rebranding" would go for new signage and materials to match their new "identity." Me, I'd rather they spend it on more materials in other languages, more activities for kids and teens, etc.
I want to stress that this is not a done deal. A proposal, based on the survey results, will go before the library board on October 28, and the board can accept all, some, or none of the proposal.
Another thing: It’s unclear whether the library would need to use taxpayer dollars to fund any of these “improvements.” In addition to public funds, the library receives funding from a couple of private organizations, namely Friends of the Seattle Public Library and the Seattle Public Library Foundation, among others. An internal budget for the rebranding shows that some of the funding for this project has already been accounted for. The Robert Charles Bunn Seattle Public Library Fund would cover the business cards, and the Seattle Public Library Foundation would cover the cost of the launch. But at this point, the funding source for the largest budget item—swapping out the signs—is TBD.
It’s of course valid to want a hip new logo and slogan that appeals to whatever demographic you’re trying to reach. But why not engage the community by announcing that the library is looking for a new logo, and then hold a competition and have the demographic you’re trying to reach dream one up?
Of course, what do library patrons really want?
I asked what visitors request the most at the library. He replied that the resource they lack the most is… *drum roll*… time. “I’d say what we hear most often from patrons is their wish that the libraries could be open more hours system-wide,” he wrote in response to my question. “That is a long-term commitment that requires additional staffing and a sustainable source of funding that carries on year after year after year, rather than a one-time fund source.”
The Library Board of Trustees meets on October 28. They’ll have the final say on whether the library should continue to pursue the rebrand and its implementation. In his e-mails, Turner seems convinced that there’s strong community support for this effort. If you’re not part of that community—that is, if you don’t want to see almost $2 million spent on a logo and a bunch of exterior signage—then send all the members of the board an e-mail and say so. Their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.