Would you like a clear identity for your library? A logo, a color palette, and a redesigned website all sound great, but how?

A New Website Theme

Many who will see this post have a WordPress based website that is hosted by NEKLS. Many of you also use a theme that is outdated. Likely, your website is not responsive, that is to say, if you open it on a mobile device your site is the same as if you looked at it on a big monitor. It doesn’t have to be that way; many modern themes are shape-shifters. If your patrons view your library’s website via a mobile phone, then don’t you want that experience to be as good as if they were on a desktop computer?

On the KLOW homepage we have highlighted some themes that you could adopt for your own website. To see these premium themes check out the link here. I currently recommend the Streamline Pro theme. It has been used for sites like nekls.org, silverlakelibrary.org, and osawatomie.org. Each of these sites has had its Streamline theme modified to work as well as possible for that organization; it can’t do everything but we do have the ability to customize it quite a bit. Most importantly, this theme is responsive, so it is optimized for various screen sizes.

A New Color Palette

What colors represent your library? What textures? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a framework for all digital and printed materials? Here are some great resources for exploring color combinations:

  • Adobe – Hundreds of examples of color combinations that may inspire you
  • Design Seeds – Blog that features color palettes inspired by nature
  • Pictaculous – Upload a photo and pictaculous will create a color palette
  • Subtle Patterns – Free to use patterns/textures
  • Makerbook – Free visual resources, and more links like above

A New Logo

This is where things get tough. Logo creation is an art; it is difficult to nail and easy to fail. Run a Google image search for library logos. See some similarities? Open books, shelved books, tipping books, rainbow colors, and trees. It seems near impossible to stay away from the outdated cliches of library logos.

How can you avoid the pitfalls? If you can afford it, I recommend working with a professional commercial artist. Find a professional that will bring out the best of your home away from home, your library. If you can’t afford a professional you may want to see if you can find an amateur who will work with you, NEKLS can help with this to a degree (I’m volunteering) or you could try crowd sourcing, i.e. hold a design contest.

No matter who you turn to for help, first you will want to do some homework. Think about what makes your library and community special. Who are your patrons and what is your town’s history? What physical features does your library or town have? What makes you, you?

There are several tools online for logo creation but the results are going to be fairly rudimentary and/or super cliche. With that said you may find using the tools will springboard you into some real inspiration.  I found several of these logo design tools when googling, I can’t really recommend any of them in particular.

Final thought about logos: try and think beyond the usual sunflowers and wheat…


More Final Thoughts

This stuff isn’t permanent. Branding your library only becomes semi-permanent once you purchase physical materials. Work this all out digitally before you order new indoor signage in your new color palette. Spend some time with that new library logo before you have it carved into marble.

In the mean time, pick a new theme, explore colors, hold a design competition, and finally research, research, research.

Photo Credit: Canvas wall texture by Flickr user Ervin Bartis, used under Creative Commons license

Author: Dan Alexander