The Library of Congress (LOC) just got a new logo. It was created by the influential graphic designer Paula Scher, a partner at the New York firm Pentagram. You probably hadn’t notice the new look, but a lot of people did — Like John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who seems to be especially annoyed:
This new identity is a horrendous mistake. The old identity was perfect.
The new identity doesn’t look bad in and of itself, per se, but it doesn’t fit the Library of Congress in any way. The Library of Congress is majestic, historic, dignified, authoritative. A new or tweaked identity for the Library of Congress should be for the ages, something designed to last for a century or longer. This feels like an identity that will last 10 years. I love orange and black as a color scheme, but why in the world would you choose those colors for the United States Library of Congress? Why is the word “Library” used twice? Why do some of these marks break up the word “Library” at utterly random points making it unreadable? The ones that break it up as “LIBR-Library of Congress-ARY” look like a logo for the Long Island Railroad.
This is all so wrong it breaks my heart.
— John Gruber / Daring Fireball
John’s heart is broken
Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Me? I don’t particularly care one way or another. However, I do find it a bit ironic that the hero of my last post about logos was Michael Beirut, who is also a Pentagram partner and works with Ms. Scher. He’s not that smitten with logos either. I’m guessing that, regardless of the logo, we’ll both still visit the Library of Congress and think it’s an amazing place.
Anyhow, my brain still struggles to compute why people fret so much over logos. So, before you form your own opinion, visit the Library of Congress website, listen to Michael Beirut, read what the “experts” think, then check out the case study at Pentagram (links below). It’s a fascinating process.
And remember: Logos don’t create meaning, customers do. Besides, I like Paula Scher.
About the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. Founded in 1800, it is the oldest federal cultural institution in the nation. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
The LOC is the largest library in the world, with more than 167 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 39 million books and other printed materials, 3.6 million recordings, 14.8 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 8.1 million pieces of sheet music and 72 million manuscripts.