PLA President Felton Thomas Introduces New Brand to Members
When you work in public libraries, embracing change comes with the territory.
This is true at PLA as well as in your library. As the role of libraries keeps evolving, you are constantly educating the public about how far your library has come, and then inventing what comes next. PLA is here to make change work for you—and sometimes that involves expanding the way we think and talk about ourselves.
Today, I am proud to introduce a new brand for PLA. Last year, our board members and staff took a close look at how we present ourselves as an association. We decided to update PLA’s public face in a way that better reflects who we are and who we work for: talented public library professionals like you.
You may notice some changes right away—like a new PLA logo inspired by the public library’s role as a source of opportunity for every community.
Other changes are just as important but more subtle. We are updating the way we describe the unique and unparalleled ability of public libraries to help anyone learn, do, and grow. Our goal is to better convey to library partners, funders, and policymakers that wherever public libraries are working, possibility lives—and that PLA is dedicated to building the library leaders that make that possible.
We are confident you will see yourselves in this effort—it was built on the feedback of library leaders, and champions like you, and inspired by your restless innovation.
While PLA’s conference, educational opportunities, and initiatives will continue to bring library people together as usual, I hope you will join me in welcoming our refreshed brand and the openness to change it represents.
All my best,
Felton Thomas, Jr.
In May 2015, the PLA board began discussing how best to approach objectives of its strategic plan related to enhancing perceptions of public libraries. Their goal was to consider how PLA could play a major role in public library advocacy and in influencing public perception about the library. As a result, PLA began work to re-position itself; to create a vision of what the public library means in the 21st Century in order to give its members a new way to communicate the same ideas to their communities.
Soon after that work began, PLA was honored to receive a grant from the Global Libraries Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of this grant, PLA received funds specifically for organizational capacity work, including efforts to strengthen its position as the premier association for public library professionals, while raising the profile of public libraries and library support organizations generally. This funding allowed PLA to build on the work already started.
As a membership organization, PLA’s mission is twofold: to enhance the value of public library services while elevating the profession for library staff. These parallel goals mean that PLA has two interconnected value propositions to communicate—the value of the public library to individuals and communities, and the value of PLA as a leader and resource to its members. A refreshed brand positioning for PLA, including a clearly defined and enlightened definition of the 21st Century public library, offers PLA members an important service—a model to help them communicate why libraries should be considered the most valuable asset in their communities.
In December 2016, PLA finalized the development of a refreshed positioning and visual identity for the Association. This work included a communications audit, stakeholder interviews, and a member advisory brand summit. The refreshed positioning and visual identity was officially rolled out in February 2017.
The PLA logo has not been overhauled in more than 30 years, outside of minor changes to its font and usage guide in 1998 and 2009.
The development of the refreshed positioning and visual identity was paid for exclusively by non-dues revenue.