The L!BRARY Initiative

Merit Award, Lot with a Little

The Robin Hood Foundation initiated an effort to remodel or create libraries in ten neglected New York City public elementary schools with money raised from corporate donors. The graphic designers named the project The L!BRARY Initiative and designed a simple, flexible identity based on the word-mark. This was extended into signage and other environmental graphics at each of the libraries, each of which is tailored to its school and student body. In an inexpensive way, the customized graphics help personalize the state-of-the-art libraries and make them feel like the students' own. For instance, the designers' work for the library at P.S. 184 in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood included not just designing door and bookshelf signage, but creating a giant mural above the shelves in the high-ceiling space. Photographic portraits of kids from the school were enlarged and assembled by the designers into a super-scale frieze that adds a playful counterpoint to the arch, traditional setting. At C.S. 50 in the Bronx, poems written by students have been arranged as a typographic mural around the walls of the colorful space, with the words growing on end like grass. And the undulating library space at P.S. 42 in Far Rockaway, Queens, features a story corner that, when pulled, surrounds students in a cloud of letters.

Jury Comments: 

"This in an outstanding example of a learning environment created on a very limited budget. The L!BRARY word-mark creates a strong identity that is welcoming to children, and can be applied in a flexible manner within different elementary schools. The design successfully communicates learning opportunities through cleverly conceived wall graphics that speak directly to the children. Interior signage is simple, and features poems by children. The use of color and the selection of furnishings reinforce the learning appeal of this environment."

Design Firm: 



Robin Hood Foundation

Location City: 

New York, New York

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 


Design Team: 

Michael Bierut (Principal in Charge), Rion Byrd




Color by Pergament for P.S. 184, Big Apple for C.S. 50, Dale Travis Associates for C.S. 50, MegaMedia Concepts for P.S. 42, Applied Image, Inc. for P.S. 101

Related Links: 

New Member Offer

Click to access the 2020 "Never been an SEGD member before" $185 sign up offer

Upcoming SEGD Events

2022 Conference Experience Portland
2022 SEGD Academic Summit
2022 Wayfinding and Placemaking