If you've used the library website in the last few days, you may have noticed that Brooklyn Public Library sports a snazzy new logo and color scheme on its homepage. Gone is the sad little black box that for so long meekly defined our presence in the digital realm. There's something invigorating about the facelift that comes with rebranding -- it seems to signify a fresh start, a new direction. The library has gone through several such reincarnations over the years, and today's blog post concerns itself with the various iterations of the our logo, from classic to retro to ultramodern. Think of it as the institutional equivalent of embarrassing photographs of yourself in 1970s bell-bottoms or 1980s shoulder pads.
The above book plate image appears, with minor variations, in the library's earliest materials. Joy's blog post about our book plate collection goes into greater detail on the many iterations of the torch image with the Latin motto "Litterae, lux, scientiae". Images like this one were employed to establish ownership of library materials or the provenance of book donations. On some of our older books you will also see perforations on the front page that spell out "Brooklyn Public Library". It may not be a logo, per se, but I do think its an interesting graphic rendering of our name.
Logos as we now know them -- a kind of iconic shorthand representing a larger concept -- started appearing in Brooklyn Public Library materials, as far as I can tell, in the 1960s.
The above logo, from a 1967 BPL Bulletin, oozes mid-century-futuristic charm, while the masthead below, from ten years later, employs the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in a more nostalgic style.
One especially unique design campaign, which you will still see on our letterhead and on the signs at our many neighborhood branches, celebrated Brooklyn's status as a home to authors by incorporating the autographs of well-known writers from the borough, including Gay Talese, Isaac Asimov, Anais Nin, and Norman Mailer, among others.
It was also deployed on our library card design. Residing as they do in the wallets and purses of hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites, library cards serve as a little plastic ambassador of the Brooklyn Public Library brand.
Although they started out as purely functional, like the paper card above from 1954, library cards have transformed over the years to become a bit more colorful and playful. Here are a few different designs you may remember (or maybe you are still carrying them around, even, in your bursting-at-the-seams wallet).
And lastly, here is the black box logo we've used for so many years, to which we now happily say goodbye, and thanks for the memories.