Rebranding Removes the Term Library


At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, I knew this was coming when I wrote The Revolutionary Library in April of 2011, and again in August with The Physics of Your Library Brand. I just didn’t know where it would break out or exactly when.

A library no more . . . Idea Exchange is born. Library rebranding is underway in Cambridge according to the Cambridge Times reporter Bill Jackson in his article last Thursday, February 20. The Cambridge Public Library – Art Gallery • Library • Community Center – in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada was established in 1973 by combining the separate libraries of Galt, Preston and Hespeler with a history over 100 years at that time. In 1992 renovation and expansion of the Library & Gallery in Galt included new space to house a climate controlled art gallery, a studio and greatly enlarged children’s facilities. Additional expansions over the years have created the multipurpose entity that exists today.

I’d like to say it’s an evolution,” said chief executive officer Greg Hayton. “About three years ago, we started using the slogan Ideas Unlimited. About that time we also began to take a careful look at the service provided.

As you know, the advent of e-books, the rise of Google, all these electronic sources and services and means of conveying information have changed the approach that people take to get their information.” [Emphasis added.]

Hayton said the library board felt the need to expand services and has begun to develop much broader programming for children and adults while making a “huge effort” to integrate art as a central component.

“It’s not a separate thing sticking out on the side anymore,” he explained. “It’s central to what we do.

“Being stimulated by art is as valid as being stimulated by something you read in a book, coming to a program or hearing a concert we have,” Hayton continued.

“That led us to think we should look for a new way of presenting these changes that we’re making to the public and that led first of all to the slogan Ideas Unlimited. The second and last stage of that evolution is to do a rebranding, which removes the terms library and gallery from the terminology that we use and replace all of it under one umbrella called Idea Exchange.” [Emphasis added.]

Mayor Doug Craig thinks it’s appealing.

It’s bringing in a new demographic of individuals other than people like myself who are part of a generation that has traditionally seen libraries as book repositories,” he said. “They’ve now become places where events take place, where people get together, where ideas are exchanged.” [Emphasis added.]

“In this case, the library has chosen to follow a rebranding exercise to help strengthen and promote its image.” [Christy Arnold, spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport]

The terms library and gallery will no longer be used by the Idea Exchange. [Emphasis added.]

Let me reiterate my comments from almost three years ago. “There is only one certainty regarding libraries in the future – they will not remain the same as they were in the past. … The LIBRARY brand must change. It is no longer BOOKS. Libraries need to actively market their changes to cause a change of perception among library customers – and the public in general – to be competitive in the marketplace.”

Two articles from August 2011 provide emphasis for the point of changing the LIBRARY image, just by changing the name and redefining the priorities to address community needs as Cambridge has done. A third article emphasizes the importance of detaching the term LIBRARY from the physical building.

Don’t call it a library: Stevenson debuts new information center about Chicago area Stevenson High School’s new “Information and Learning Center”.
Now’s time for library with benefits about Carson City, NV efforts to create a new “Knowledge and Discovery Center”.

When “Library” Is Not an Action but an Old Building –A TTW Guest Post by Dr. Troy Swanson in which he reiterates; “This concern was captured by Rick Anderson in his editorial when he said, “Eventually the term ‘library’ becomes an honorific attached to a building, rather than a meaningful designation for what happens inside it.” (Journal of Academic Librarianship July 2011,37:4, p. 290)

How can the library re-invent itself and change its brand to survive in the 21st Century technology and information marketplace? How can we apply physics to library rebranding in order to move the library’s position in the information and community center marketplace?

    • Each library must start with its own local library brand marketing campaign – such as “Likenomics” & Library Marketing.
    • Every access point for customers to interact with a library should be a unique experience – unlike typical LIBRARY experiences – such as Digital Discovery – A New 21st Century Library Skill .
    • Every library must begin to overcome the stereotypical LIBRARY perception by becoming MORE – such as The 21st Century Library is More: and other suggestions in several Blog posts that followed.
    • Re-brand your local library on an incremental scale by creating “a portfolio of brands or maybe new brands for new ventures” – such as new logos for library programs that do NOT include the word LIBRARY.
    • On a regional level, library consortium must conduct marketing campaigns that change the LIBRARY brand to something other than BOOK.
    • On a national level, library associations must conduct marketing campaigns that change the LIBRARY brand to something other than BOOK.
    • Re-brand professional publications, logos and events without the word LIBRARY.

2014 is long past time when libraries should have been responding to the change in the Information Age operating environment – if they have any hope of being relevant to their community.

ADDENDUM:

Eighth-graders design and build a school library for the 21st century
“When we asked them what do you want out of your school, they didn’t use the word ‘library,’ …. “They said they wanted a space to relax and read and discover. They said ‘I want to learn how microphones work,’ ‘I want to learn how ostriches make their nests,’ ‘I want to learn how to make video games,’ or ‘I want to learn better English.’ All these questions about exploration and finding things you don’t know.”

Boston Public Library’s Central Branch Children’s Library “will be filled with opportunities for children to read, create, play, explore, and learn together.” This is what will change the perception of “library” for the future generations of users.

Innovative Library 21c leads PPLD toward new horizons “It’s not just a building,” said PPLD Executive Director Paula Miller. “We’re changing the way we deliver public library service in several ways. The [Pikes Peak] Library District’s board of trustees approved late last month a name for the $10.7 million project, which will be called Library 21c — a moniker representative of its 21st-century model. “Leaders at PPLD find the ‘c’ component edgy and flexible,” the district said an announcement. “ ‘C’ for century; ‘c’ for change; ‘c’ for connections; ‘c’ for create; ‘c’ for community.”

From library to learning commons “We’re talking about a proposal to put the researching and the writing process together,” [Frederick Community College Writing Center Manager Betsey] Zwing said. The library’s print book collection has shrunk from about 32,000 volumes to about 17,000 since 2002, O’Leary said. Organizing those hard copies in the most efficient way would free up 2,500 square feet that could be used to accommodate help desks, collaborative study rooms, Writing Center tables, SmartBoards and more.

Starting from Scratch | Design4Impact While not technically rebranding, redesigning the library’s space for different functionalities is close enough to warrant understanding this trend.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Rebranding Removes the Term Library

  1. David Keyt

    Why must we stop using the word ‘library’? Why not change people’s perceptions about the word ‘library’? I work in a TAFE Library in Australia. TAFE is where students can achieve Certificates and Diplomas and use them as stepping stones to a University Course, or to supplement University achieved knowledge. We changed our name, and we are the only ones who use that name, despite the fact that we’ve had it for almost 8 years. The teachers and the students still talk about the ‘library’. This is not due to a lack of promotion or pushing of the new name.
    ‘Library’ is a strong term. It is a single word, which encapsulates all that we do. The fact that how we do it is evolving and has evolved doesn’t matter. People need information (from books, internet, magazines, databases, etc) so they come to the Library.
    Cars have come a long way from the first motor car, and they are still called cars. The same with planes. The same with computers.
    There is a lot of history in the word ‘Library’. In a world where children who are 5 today will start work, at the age of 21, in a job which isn’t yet invented, how many other industries/professions can reach back to the ancient Egyptians?
    Sure, a rose by any other name is still a rose. But we don’t call roses by any other name. Why stop using the word ‘Library’?

    • Thanks for raising the issue David. I don’t think it’s a matter of “must” but more a matter of staying relevant to the community the library serves. Obviously, no librarian will ever call these institutions anything other than “library” but the public perception is what draws community members into any place (regardless of what it’s named). As I discussed in my original blog post (The Physics of Your Library Brand), re-branding is necessary “because the public image of “LIBRARY” is stuck in public perception as “BOOKS”” and that isn’t likely to change before the public so distances itself from “the library” that it will be out of business before it can get the public back, unless we seriously consider re-branding. Unfortunately, I think you’re absolutely right that “The fact that how we do it is evolving and has evolved doesn’t matter.” and people still refer to it as a “library.” So, in my mind re-branding is essential to let people know what “libraries” DO, and that it is no longer synonymous with “BOOK.”
      In your analogy a rose has the same function it has always had since it evolved into a rose – beauty and fragrance. Roses do have many variety names to distinguish them from each other, from Abraham Darby to Zephirine Drouhin, so why not another name for a community’s variety of library?

  2. ktoraki

    I really agree with above question: why to change the so-called “brand”. I would add the question: Why using the word “brand” to designate an institution we call “library”? Isn’t it more a commercial term? And, do we change the names of the concepts? Or this concept disappears? Do we stop saying “museum”, “school”, “book”? I understand why we have to describe the new roles of 21st century librar and yes, this can be under further discussion.

    • Branding is not a noun. It is a verb. A re-branded library should reflect it’s new role in the community. In decades past the library operated as a warehouse of “books” and was a passive institutions, as far as the public was concerned. In the 21st Century no institution that wants to remain relevant to its community can afford to be passive. It must be proactive and draw people into its locations to experience all that it has to offer, in the case of the local library that is a lot besides “books.” Three weeks ago I wrote Why Do We Still Need “libraries”? We Don’t!,
      “So, what is the solution to answering people’s question? [Why do we still need libraries?] What can the librarian profession of the 21st Century reply to that question? Try this.

      “You’re right. Our community does not need the “library” that you’re thinking of, because that library doesn’t have:
      • high-speed Internet terminals,
      • access to more materials than the NYC Public Library,
      • downloadable eBooks, eAudio books, music and videos,
      • 3D printers for people to make their visions something they can hold in their hands,
      • a virtual branch where you can access our information 24/7,
      • a mobile app for you to take “it” with you wherever you go,
      • mobile technology that can give you a virtual tour of our collection,
      • innovative learning programs for virtually every interest,
      • dynamic space for stimulating conversation,
      • creative environments to stimulate your imagination,
      • librarians to help you learn how to use all these services,
      • user centered materials and services,

      The term or label or name “library” does not convey this perception. I’m suggesting that we need to create a new word that does.

  3. One of the many challenges that accompanies the leap from library to a more descriptive term is lack of clarity as to the role of the book. Many of our colleagues see the book as our product or output which was always been a questionable perspective in my view. In many organizations, the book is one of many tools that supports users’ experiences, community learning and discover,y and creation. When you begin to think of the book in this way, it rebranding makes even more sense.

  4. I agree with the power of re-branding and Steve’s comment on the need to stay relevant in the community via the use of the re-branding technique. I can see it matching the services offered with the creation of a dynamic and clearer perception in the minds of users and potential users of the future.

  5. Pingback: Rebranding Removes the Term Library | 21st Cent...

  6. Cambridge Citizen

    The world is changing fast.

    Cambridge Libraries and Galleries in Ontario Canada has now introduced RFID. Staff at the library are NOT ALLOWED to ring the books through the scanner, now the patrons are forced to check out their own books. Not really a problem, but every other person walks up to the circulation staff and says “you’re going to lose your job you know” while thinking they are the first one to come to this realization. At the same time Library management runs around telling people that nobody will be losing their jobs.. of course this statement never shows up in writing.

    Although checking out your own books via RFID seems modern, it is already out dated by the online availability of library connected ebook through service of overdrive.com Your tax dollars are already paying for this service so you get to sign up for free using your library card! Download e-books to your hearts content.

    Soon the library system will introduce downloadable & instant streamed movies instead of DVD. This is happening in neighbouring libraries so it won’t be long until Cambridge offers this as well.

    All well and good to have modern technology available in the Library. But if digital services replaces the hard copy book & DVD.. what will all that floor space be needed for? What will all the staff DO during the day if patrons do not need their help anymore? Young patrons are tech savvy, have Google at their fingertips 24/7 and do not even need help learning how to use RFID to check out books.. it is second nature to them. Online book reviews and research is easier than encyclopedia (remember those!?).

    Is a Masters of Library Sciences even a relevant degree anymore?

    There are really only two draws to the library at this point in time. High speed internet access and children’s programming (a HUGE highlight!). More and more people are getting internet access in their own home (must be closing in on 100% by now…) so really the only draw is the children’s programming. At least that can not be replaced so easily, and the Children’s staff in the Cambridge system are incredibly creative, enthusiastic and very passionate.

    Its hard to imagine what the future will look like, but I’m pretty sure it will not contain many books or DVDs and the Library system will be hard pressed to find an alternate use for all that floor space and staff. The FIGHT is definitely on to stay relevant to the community, to justify continued infinite funding from the municipality, to hold on to its very identify.

    • Thanks Citizen. It’s always good to hear from librarians in the trenches, especially when it tells the story of library staff and (by extension) leadership who have not yet caught the vision of the 21st Century Library. In my post of Feb 3, Why Do We Still Need “libraries”? We Don’t!, I listed just a few of the services that a 21st Century Library should offer. These and much more are to where the space and the manpower should shift.

      “We absolutely DO NOT need that tired old stereotype library with the bunned, shushing librarian guarding a dusty collection of “books.” Society has no use for those obsolete libraries and librarians of the past that were adequate for the society of the past.
      So, what is the solution to answering people’s question? What can the librarian profession of the 21st Century reply to that question? Try this [answer].
      “You’re right. Our community does not need the “library” that you’re thinking of, because that library doesn’t have:
      • high-speed Internet terminals,
      • access to more materials than the NYC Public Library,
      • downloadable eBooks, eAudio books, music and videos,
      • 3D printers for people to make their visions something they can hold in their hands,
      • a virtual branch where you can access our information 24/7,
      • a mobile app for you to take “it” with you wherever you go,
      • mobile technology that can give you a virtual tour of our collection,
      • innovative learning programs for virtually every interest,
      • dynamic space for stimulating conversation,
      • creative environments to stimulate your imagination,
      • librarians to help you learn how to use all these services,
      • user centered materials and services, and
      MUCH, MUCH MORE!!

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