National Library Symbol

Q. I've seen the web page on the National Library Symbol, ALA Library Fact Sheet 30 - National Library Symbol/Library Symbol Highway Sign. But you only have a small jpg file there. Do you have any large, high-resolution image files of the National Library Symbol that my library can download and use in our promotional materials and on our website?

A. Yes, we do now! ALA Publishing Technology created a large, high-resolution version of the National Library Symbol, in a couple of file types, including EPS, which can be freely downloaded from that same ALA Library Fact Sheet 30.

As mentioned on the page, the National Library Symbol was originally designed by Ralph E. DeVore for use in the Western Maryland Public Libraries. The image debuted in its official capacity in the 1982 ALA publication, A Sign System for Libraries, by DeVore and Mary S. Mallery, and was the cover story of the September 1982 issue of ALA's member magazine, American Libraries. DeVore's original design scheme for the image was an opaque white silhouette against a blue (specifically, PMS #285 blue) background.

National Library Symbol

As specified in the Purpose, Background, and Selection sections of the Resolution to Endorse A National Library Symbol (PDF):

The purpose of a national library symbol is to increase public awareness of libraries through widespread use of a standardized symbol on library directional signs and promotional materials. The symbol is designed primarily for use on exterior library signs appearing on streets, highways, campuses, and buildings; but it can also be used by individual libraries on newsletters, posters, booklists, library cards, bookmarks, letterhead, and other promotional materials.

Impetus for adopting a national library symbol developed from a recommendation of the 1979 White House Conference on Library and Information Services which suggested "adopting a library symbol for the Nation" as one means for increasing public awareness of libraries. In the fall of 1981, ALA President Betty Stone established a task force to study the possibility of implementing this recommendation...

The symbol triggers instant recognition of a library through a graphic representation that people instantly associate with libraries--the book and reader. It does not attempt to capture the essence of the modern library or represent the range of its resources. In the task force's opinion. this would be impossible to do in a clean. easily recognized image. Once the public is cued to the presence of a library by the basic symbol, additional symbols, signs, and promotional materials can be used to further educate users about the full range of library resources.

Scans of the National Library Symbol, in black-and-white and blue-and-white, as well as of the original black-and-white glossy handout with the symbol in various shapes and sizes, can be viewed at the account for ALA-The American Library Association in the National Library Symbol Photo Set.