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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

nolite hoc facere...

Very much in the 'Scotland and the cult of mediocrity' bracket - although not specifically Scottish, it must be said. The National Library of Scotland has a new logo, which can just be seen top right here - follow the link for a close-up:

The old one (still, thankfully, all over the website) looks like this:

Now, I think the older one is much prettier than the new, but that's not the point. The cause for concern is two-fold.

Firstly, the NLS - which, I should say, I love very much and find to be an excellent research library - is not exactly rolling in it. Like every library in the country, it struggles, as far as I know, to maintain its level of staff, get manuscript accessions catalogued as quickly and well as it would like, etc etc.. So why spend however much it must have cost to redevelop the wee picture atop of all the leaflets?

Second is in fact the answer which the powers that be in the NLS actually give, viz., that the new logo represents greater openness and accessibility.

'As readers know, NLS has been developing a new strategy based upon the principles of widening access to its collections and extending awareness of the relevance of the Library to modern Scotland.

The new logo on the cover of this issue leads the way, with its less formal style and its open and modern look...'


Do you feel oppressed by the celtic-coathanger squiggle? Do you feel put-upon by the weight of the Edinburgh bibliographical establishment? I don't. I may, of course, have internalised the patriarchal assumptions of the NLS's past to the extent that I am unable to judge clearly on such matters, but I suspect that the logo is not a major factor in putting anyone off the NLS. Again, couldn't the time, effort and money have been used on the other more sensible ideas that the library has in play?

Big old research libraries are among the last bastions of substance rather than style; please, dear NLS, don't go the way of the world!