Montana State Library Commission votes to accept new, slightly altered logo

By: - October 12, 2022 5:32 pm

The old proposal for the Montana State Library logo, left, next to the newly adopted logo that the library commission voted on Wednesday.

The Montana State Library Commission voted 4-2 on Wednesday to adopt a new logo featuring a prism design and colors similar to an earlier rejected proposal that proved controversial to some for resembling the Pride flag.

At the meeting, commissioners generally praised the new design despite the controversy it had caused earlier and ensuing delay. They also discussed the costs associated with the redesign and rollout as well as impacts of the delayed decision on library services.

Commissioner Tammy Hall, who voted against the original design in July, was one of two commissioners to vote against the new design. Hall cited the price tag associated with the logo as part of her opposition.

The entire project budget was $292,000 and included branding development, the logo and rollout. Money came from the state library’s trust, and more than $130,000 has been spent already.

The palette for the now adopted logo, which only varies slightly from the original proposal, was inspired by the colors of the Montana state flag. It was submitted by a rebranding subcommittee formed at the suggestion of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Commission member Elsie Arntzen.

Hall also wanted to be able to consider other alternatives for the color scheme, as discussed at an Aug. 3 meeting. Advertising agency Hoffman York, which was contracted to design both logos, provided three additional color palettes published Sept. 1.

“I requested at the time that one of those colors be just a solid blue and white or black,” she said.

She referred to the logo as “recycled” due to its similarity to the original design and color scheme. During a June meeting, Hall expressed opposition to the original design when it was first unveiled, saying it looked similar to an LGBTQ+ rainbow.

Commissioner Kristin Kerr, one of the subcommittee members, said that library staff could not get behind a monochromatic logo “because it did not reflect what their intention was in the first place.”

Kerr said she was sad about the logo’s cost, even if it wasn’t taxpayer money.

Addie Palin of Hoffman York said during public comment the funds were also used to help research, solicit comments from staff and to get public buy-in.

Montana Memory Project Director Jennifer Birnel, which operates under the umbrella of services the state library offers, said prolonging the decision around the logo has put “vital” changes on hold that impact growth, like redesigning their website and updating business cards. The Montana Memory Project serves as a digital archive of the state’s culture and history.

“I’ve been waiting to make an order because I don’t want to expend the funds until it’s going to be accurate,” she said. “My hope is that you will move forward so that we can move forward as a State Library. We’ve put a lot of programs in kind of limbo.”

The commission also discussed money for the rollout, which Hall said hadn’t been approved by the commission. However, State Librarian Jennie Stapp clarified that the funds had been proposed and approved in late 2020.

An updated rollout strategy was posted online Tuesday, with goals including educating the public on the breadth of services offered by the state library and as well as legislators in the upcoming session.

Arntzen moved to “pause the expense moving forward to really understand what the rebrand will do,” but after an anonymous commenter in the Zoom messenger chat asked about whether it would be legal to take action without public notice, commissioners decided to put the matter on the agenda for their upcoming December meeting.

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.