the role of a public library

openbare bibliotheek amsterdam

For the Library of Amsterdam (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam – oba) we devised a way of writing that places the word ‘library’ centre stage.
The logo exists of the words ‘openbare’ (public) and ‘Amsterdam’ written vertical in smaller type, and the word ‘bibliotheek’ (library) written horizontally in the middle. The vertical words openbare and Amsterdam refer to bookstands, as if all the types stand on a shelf.

By now the oba has become its own brand, being much more than just a library.

inspiration  When former oba director Hans van Velzen approached us to design the identity, visual communication and signage system of their new and existing buildings, we were faced with the question of the role of a public library today. Information is found online and reading has shifted from books to soundbites.

We challenged the library to take a different approach, something we felt needed highlighting since the oba plays a crucial role as a place of meeting and exchange. Nowadays the oba has become a happening platform: a key player in the public domain. A stronghold where current events on the agenda are part of the public debate.

how it got done  The new director Martin Berendse decided to work with the abbreviation ‘oba’ as the main brand. And again, we applied the same vertical and horizontal rule to the abbreviation: the b in the middle is enlarged and the o and a turned horizontally. In the new version of the identity all the vowels are rotated vertically.

We wanted to keep the name of the institute alive because of its brand and its history. In the signage and visual communication of the library, we used the same combination of small vertical and bigger horizontal text. The idea was quite simple, and by applying it to all official communication, language became a logo itself, which is quite fitting for a language-driven institute like a library.

client profile  Since 1919 the oba has proudly served the citizens of Amsterdam in their quest for personal development. During the 20th century this was predominantly done through books but 21st-century technologies demand a wider approach. It is the oba’s mission that all Amsterdammers can participate inclusively in an information-driven society.