Saturday, June 30, 2012

What I'm Reading: Jonah Lehrer's Imagine

I know Jonah Lehrer has been getting some bad press lately for recycling his writing, but he's still one of the most gifted science & psychology writers I know of. So I'm not going to worry about it.

Imagine is about creativity - not just artistic creativity, but productive creativity. How do people come up with good ideas? And how do they turn those good ideas into finished products, like inventions or albums or websites? These are the questions that Lehrer addresses in this book, with a combination of psychological research and individual stories.

I found it to be a fascinating read. As I said, Lehrer is a gifted writer, and the book reads quickly and smoothly. I learned that caffiene is helpful when we need to focus on refining and perfecting an idea, but that it impairs the "remote associations" that allow us to germinate ideas and come up with novel solutions to problems. Because of those same remote associations, we are more likely to have an "aha!" moment when we're relaxed, and thinking about something else. And in order to change our thinking, it helps to change our scenery - travel really does help get you out of a creative rut!

Mostly through anecdotes and case studies, Lehrer also covers group creative processes - the things that help us be more creative and productive as teams. I found these chapters to be especially interesting. I was inspired to think about the way my office/group works at the library, and about whether we really operate in the best way to encourage our creativity and productivity.

The next post will be some quick tips based on this book for encouraging creativity in your library or organization.

Favorite Library Logos

The logo research continues, and I've been looking at a LOT of library logos lately. (Alliteration: just one more service I offer.)Here are some of my favorites.

(I've linked to the library websites whenever I could, so you can see the logos in their native habitat.)

First, logos with books in them:
Anchorage Public Library
This is one of my absolute favorites. It's a book, but at the same time it looks very digital - you can see it as being more about reading and knowledge than about the physical object of the book. Great colors but still nice in black-and-white.

Beech Grove Public Library
Simple and elegant book-and-tree. The downside: the lettering. Why is the H large? And what's with the kerning? The bottom line especially.

Hamilton Public Library (Ontario)
What I like about this logo is the hand that holds the book. First of all, GREAT use of negative space. Second of all, it adds so much warmth and humanity to this image. It's not a picture of a book - it's a picture of a person USING a book. Wonderful.

Daniel Boone Regional Library
A fun, colorful logo that still holds up in one color. Also check out the fun tie-in on their Bookmobile Jr: (scroll down)

Place-based logos
These logos focus on the LOCATION of their library, rather than of the CONTENTS of the library.

New York Public Library
We're all jealous of New York Public Library. So beloved, such rich history. Their logo shows the lions which flank the entrance.

Chicago Public Library
I love the simplicity of this piece. Somehow it manages to seem like a solid institution of long standing, without seeming stodgy or out-of-date. The "Y" symbol, which forms the book in the center, is the "municipal device" of the city, and represents the Chicago River. (Read more here: )

Orange County Library System
Okay, so this logo isn't exactly to my taste, and I think there are some things wrong with it, and's bright, it's fun, and it represents its community. I had to include it here.

Graphic Logos
It's hard to do a good graphic logo, but when you get it right, it can be both modern and timeless. Here are a couple that I do like. (You may be noticing a tendancy towards circles at this point. I confess. I do like circles.)
Hennepin County Library
I really like this. So simple, so bold.

Westport Public Library
It's graphic, it's flowing, it works in one color and at a small size. Very good.

Marion Regional Library
Being a design and type geek, of COURSE I like this logo! (Note: This logo seems to be ENTIRELY HOMELESS on the internet and to exist only within Google Images. I can't find a library with that name, and the designer's site won't load either.)

Jefferson-Madison Regional Library
A local favorite of mine.

And a final, self-indulgent category...... RAINBOW LOGOS!
This section really has nothing to do with my professional opinion. I just happen to love rainbows

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Library Book Logo - pros and cons

Our library is exploring a new logo. Not that we really have a logo right now, so I guess we're exploring the possibility of A logo.

And there's one large question that keeps coming up: Do we or don't we use the image of a book in the logo?

Pros: Books are still the single image that people associate most with libraries. ( A logo with a book is immediately recognizable - a book is an easy thing to visualize, and when people look at it, they see "library."

There's also an affection factor. People who already love books are probably the most inclined to love libraries, and we can tie ourselves into that. I love books, and my favorite library logos all have books in them.

Cons: Books can be seen as old-fashioned and boring, which we definitely want to leave behind. A book image doesn't help us expand ourselves. We don't necessarily want to play into the libraries=books stereotype. If we want to start moving into a new niche, we need to start creating a new brand, and associating ourselves with a new image. We are trying to remove our association with "things" like books, discs and computers, and associate ourselves with intangibles like service, community, and intelligence.

 :) Now if I can only find a way to create a visualization for community and service...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012