When I initially contacted my friend Amy about helping me design a logo for Library Manifesto we made an inspiration board that included album art, a credit card logo, and a movie poster for Godard’s Masculin Féminin. Together, the images captured the different dimensions I was hoping to show in the newsletter. I wanted something radical, artistic, serious, and simple.
A few people have asked me about the central element of the design, the Venn diagram. At this point I feel so at home with the logo that I haven’t stopped to reflect about whether its meaning to me has changed since I originally chose it. John Venn first published his famous diagrams in the 1880s in an effort to formalize the diagrams used for sets in symbolic logic. Since then the Venn diagram has taken on a much broader usage and is a widely recognized image (in a way, the Venn diagram is a seminal infographic). When I look at it now, on its most basic level the Venn Diagram exemplifies information organization, one of the most fundamental parts of librarianship. But it also speaks to the function of the library in its community and even to a frame of mind.
Inclusion and exclusion are at the heart of the Venn Diagram and I see the library serving as a place of inclusion in the community. Libraries are open to all people and also provide access to information that is free and without censorship. The library can be the place of overlap and conversation where different people and ideas come together.
The Venn diagram tells me to find common ground in the left and right sides of my brain. It is a good reminder to bring the artistic part of myself to every professional project, which I don’t always feel comfortable doing. I feel that everyone, librarians and archivists, should take their practical skills and combine them with the things that interest them. There is sometimes common ground where you least expect it, and that slice of overlap should be nourished.
P.S. Venn himself was no stranger to archives. With his son John Archibald he delved deep into Cambridge University records to publish Alumni Cantabrigienses, a register of 130,000 University of Cambridge members dating back to the 13th century.