The L!BRARY Initiative



Practice Area


Robin Hood Foundation


Project Vision

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.

Project Details
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.
Juror 1
Design Team

Michael Bierut (Principal in Charge), Rion Byrd

Design Firm



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