Design & UX
By Jennifer Farley

The New York Public Library Logo: Between the Lines

By Jennifer Farley

There was quite a bit of buzz online around the launch of the new logo for the New York Public Library.

Old LogoNew York Public Library Logo
Old Public library logo (left) and new.

The Redesign began in 2008 with the designers using photographs and sketches of lion statues on the steps of the library building. The lions outside the building are known as “Fortitude” and “Patience”. Influences are reported to have included Japanese woodcuts, stained glass and Art Noveau. The vector style artwork has been designed to be versatile enough to use in many formats and colors, as well as reproducing well at small sizes.


The new logo comes, as is often the case with a logo redesign, with a new mission for the library. They wanted to convey a more digital-friendly and modern feeling.

LogoWith Text

As a Leo and owner of a company with Lion in the title I have to admit I’m particularly drawn to this. Although I’m still debating with myself about whether I like this logo. I like the simplicity and the clean lines but is it a bit too cartoony for such a important keeper of knowledge?  I’m not too keen on the placement of the text although I do  like the sans-serif font. The font is called Kievit.

Some people are remarking that it looks like the MGM logo. I think they are referring to a very short lived MGM logo and not the well known classic. The blue and gold MGM logo was used in 1968 on a small number of films and the recording division of the company but was later replaced by the roaring lion we know and love.


Here’s an interesting video from the New York Public library outlining how the logo came about.

Check out other articles about the logo on Brand New and the New York Times web sites, both showing initial sketches and ideas for the logo.

So what do you think of the new logo? Is it an improvement or just more meddling with a classic?


    it is too similar of failed IPB bank 1992 – 1998? Czech republic

  • Diana Jonen

    It reminds me too much of the logo for The Lion King.

  • I am very fond of the NYPL logo except for the text placement. Aesthetically I want the text block on a level with the symbol. Fortunately, the text isn’t really needed. The symbol does all the work, with the text just being there as a first-time introduction.

    In particular, I like strong line-drawings without the use of specific colors (McDonald’s, for example). Black and white mono is quintessentially “bookish” and the Nouveau, more specifically Deco, is very New York flavored. I see that thype of line drawing in any usage: a small rubber stamp, a bookplate, a favicon, even a faint webpage watermark. I think even the youngest library patron could identify it.

    Of course Patience and Fortitude. The grand manes are iconic. It’s perfect, I think.

  • john baran

    Actually, both the NYPL lion and the movie lions share a common past. Back in 1916, when Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn) was seeking a logo for his new moving pictures company, he looked no further than outside his window on 5th Ave across the street from the Main Branch. There he saw the two lions guarding the entrance and decided that a lion would make a great logo for his new company. It also helped when the company was purchased by Marcus Lowe in 1924. Lowe was a graduate of Columbia University, whose mascot is the lion.

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