The trustees, after weathering a storm of criticism over a proposal to change the name of The Seattle Public Library to Seattle Public Libraries, voted unanimously not to proceed with the name change.
The Seattle Public Library won’t be changing its name any time soon.
At its Wednesday evening meeting at the library’s downtown location, the library board of trustees, after weathering a storm of criticism over a proposal to change the name of The Seattle Public Library to Seattle Public Libraries, voted unanimously not to proceed with the name change. That vote, by all five trustees, also included a decision not to use any of three proposed new logos for the library.
The board stopped short, however, of tabling the entire rebranding effort. Board member Tre Maxie argued that the public, while responding negatively to the proposed name change, didn’t really understand what was involved in the rebranding proposal, and that there was information in it that could be used in the future.
Before the vote, six speakers asked the board not to proceed with the name change. None spoke for it. They criticized the $365,000 in private funds spent on the rebranding proposal, saying it could have been used for critically needed services. One speaker recalled that not long ago, the library was cutting budgets and hours and furloughing library workers.
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Don Glickstein criticized the proposed logos, saying that the faded colors and all capital letters in some of the logos were out of date.
All the speakers professed their love of books.
Board members said they got the message, and that the most encouraging thing they heard was that people care about the library. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for the remarkable affection for this library,” said board member Dan Dixon.
The controversy over the rebranding effort began when the library released a survey about the proposed rebranding. It generated more than 14,000 responses, an “unheard of” response rate, said board member Kristi England. Disseminated online from Sept. 18 through Oct. 11, 93 percent of respondents were Seattle Public Library cardholders.
The survey asked for responses to the proposed name change. The most negative response was to this question: “Does the proposed name change help us move forward as an essential part of the Seattle community?” Seventy percent of the respondents voted no.
In answer to the question of which name “better evokes the value of communities,” 51.56 percent voted for The Seattle Public Library; 48.44 percent voted for Seattle Public Libraries.
Many survey respondents were disturbed by the library’s expenditure of $365,000 in private funds on the strategy, developed by the firm Hornall Anderson.
If the board had voted to proceed, the renaming and rebranding could have cost another $570,000 for the years 2016-2017 to implement the name change.