Library Director Alex Reczkowski discussed the re-branding process.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Welcome everyone.
That describes the Berkshire Athenaeum in the fewest words. It's a place for everyone to get answers to any question they might have. Library officials revealed a new branding of the athenaeum aimed to reflect just that.
"At the heart of any brand, it is about what are our promises? Our promise to our community, our promise to our patrons, our promise to ourselves and what motivates us to come here every day and serve our community," Library Director Alex Reczkowski said.
The library contracted with TSM Design on a yearlong effort to create new visuals, new tagline, logo, and a presentation to the public and the staff as to what the library truly is. It is the first of such undertaking for the library that has had the same seal and logo since 1871.
"This place is filled with wonder, surprise, the unexpected, the unfamiliar. People can explore the world from inside our walls and it is a place where if people who desire to know something come in and ask, I wonder ..." Reczkowski said.
TSM started by gathering stakeholders together to describe what the library means to them and what role it plays in the city. And the answers varied widely.
"The athenaeum is an urban center and a public space. At any one time, we serve as hosts to Melville scholars, social service agency presentations, one-on-one tutoring sessions for public school students, and homeless men and women who need a safe place to be. All of this activity is happening while we are helping 1,000 patrons a day, answering questions and providing information," said Madeline Kelly, reference services supervisor.
Kelly said the staff is highly trained to service the needs of all. She said the library brings people together, provides technology, helps with job searches and tax filings, helps students and adult learning, provide access to culture, and listen and mitigate situations in people's lives.
And library officials say they try to adapt to the needs as they go on - and the role of libraries has changed a bit since 1871.
"We can never remain stagnant. We must develop and grow our outreach, programming, an deserves to live up to our responsibility to public service," Marilyn Manning, of the Friends of the Berkshire Athenium, said.
Supervisor of Local History Kathleen Reilly said the library serves as a "great equalizer" in the community and it continually focuses on what it needs to do more of and what shouldn't be done and make those adjustments to serve.
"There are those who question whether libraries are still relevant in the age of Google. Consider the fact that 29,000 of Pittsfield's 44,000 residents are library cardholders. Open the door to the library, you see the many worlds represented in our community -- rich, poor, white, black, brown, gay, straight, bi, trans, young, old, they all come to this one place where they know they can find what they need," she said.
Board of Trustees President Kathleen Amuso said it is time for a "fresh look" and outlined some of the more recent changes. She said the library has been breaking down departmental silos to show people all of the resources available, it is coming up with creative strategies to "facilitate patrons discovery" and increasing investment in technology.
"We are reconnecting with our neighborhoods in more meaningful ways. We are creating two-way communication channels so we can stay in touch with community needs and that's what we've been able to do," Amuso said.
Board of Trustees President Kathleen Amuso discussed the steps the library has taken to adjust with the times.
This new branding is particularly driven by the vision of the employees, she said.
"The employees own this. They are proud of this. They are proud of the history and they are proud of where we are going in the future," Amuso said.
TSM distilled the depth and breadth of the library into the simple phrase "welcome everyone" and developed an accompanying tagline, "wonder inside."
It crafted a new logo hearkening back to the library's history with arches reflective of the original building over the Berkshires Athenaeum name. It chose fonts representing personalized service and density of the offerings.
"It is also uplifting and invites all to come inside and explore," Reczkowski said.
On Wednesday, a brand-new website will go live. The library will be issuing new cards with the new logo, has bookmarks, stickers, and magnets with the new logo, selling T-shirts and travel coffee mugs.
But Reczkowski said it is even more than that: it is the essence of what guides the library's operations into the future. It is a place where everyone who is wondering is welcomed inside to find the answer.
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