Library upgrades visual identity

Elaina Sessions, left, a library assistant with the Rochester Public Library, and Diane Pollock, right, a librarian with RPL, check out the variety of t-shirt colors featuring the new RPL logo after it was unveiled for library staff Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, at the library in downtown Rochester.
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Rochester’s library holds much more than books.

That’s the message behind its new look unveiled today.

"Hopefully our visual identity matches what’s happening here — that vitality," said Karen Lemke, head of marketing and community engagement at Rochester Public Library.

She added the goal is to tell the expanding story of the award-winning library that houses numerous programs and outreach efforts.

The expanse of the library’s reach and activity is easily seen in a review of the countless logos that mark the various programs. As one staffer noted: "We went rogue."


The various logos can mean people don’t always associate library programs with the overall operation, especially programs that include frequent excursions beyond the building’s walls.

"We often hear how surprised our visitors are when they discover some new service or activity that we have," Library Director Audrey Betcher said. "Today we’re offering more ways for people to feel inspired, encouraged and connected in our community, but not everyone knows how much we’ve changed."

Betcher noted it’s a combination of various the programs that led to the library’s successes, including the recent award of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

"There were involved and creative things that got us that medal, and we need to reflect that," she said.

Lemke said the new logo, along with new library cards and marketing materials, will help spread the library’s message of vitality, in the building and in the community.

The library’s rebrand comes after years of using the same logo and visual identity, which has its roots in a 1995 design contest, even though the library has experienced a major shift in programs and services in recent years.

"The library’s (most recent) logo has been around since 2006, but a lot has changed since then," Lemke said.

In addition to receiving the National Medal earlier this year, the library was recently recognized at the American Library Association’s annual conference by winning a John Cotton Dana award for public relations.


It’s all part of a growing operation.

Each year, the library sees 520,000 visitors, lends more than 1.8 million titles and hosts hundreds of free classes and events. Lemke said a strategic decision to better promote what the library offers led to the branding project unveiled today.

"Community members deserve to know more about the resources available here," she said. "When the resources are fun and engaging, but the visual brand is serious and stagnant, it’s much more difficult to spread the word about the new and innovative services and activities we’re offering."

The library’s logo isn’t the only thing changing: This month, RPL starts using a much more user-friendly web address ( ) and updated calendar software to manage event listings. Lemke said the changes are all aimed at helping community members learn more about the library.

As part of the brand launch, RPL is encouraging community members to register for free library cards. To make that easier, RPL staff will be at various locations this fall to register new library card holders.

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