In Like a Lion: New York Public Library Logo Facelift

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Noble, wise, genteel: the aging lion was an apt metaphor for the sagacity and permanence of the New York Public Library, especially its grand Carerre and Hastings-designed home in Bryant Park. Even old warhorses need an upgrade in These Modern Times, however, and the lion is now looking a little perkier after a logo upgrade by the library’s in-house art department. Details on the design nitty-gritty, plus an NYPL video outlining the logo evolution, after the cut.

The strong lines on a vector format mean the new logo can be scaled to a range of sizes, especially prescient in the internet age, when as many people are likely to see the logo on a digital screen as they are in print. Marc Blaustein, art director for the library system, confirmed to the New York Times that the old logo, with white lines on a circular black background, “had a hard time maintaining its detail as it shrank.” Update: watch reactions to the new logo from other designers on the New York Public Library’s YouTube channel.

Other potent potables:

1. We’ll also see a new color palette and – get ready for it, fellow font nerds – a new sans-serif typeface, Kievit, created by former Wolff Olins designer Michael Abbink in 2001.

2. The logo is based on one of the lions lounging on the front steps of the main library. His name is Fortitude. The shafted lion’s name? Patience. (Amusing.) Update #2: Blaustein tells us, “Though primarily based on Fortitude, there are elements of Patience in the lion logo as well. It is meant to embody the spirit of both lions.” We’re relieved.

3. No one knows the origins of the old logo or its age; in fact, even the research wizards at the library have turned up little about its provenance.

Simba? No, Fortitude.