Welcome the New Symbol of the Kansas City Public Library

Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Kansas City Public Library logo

The Kansas City Public Library’s new logo – the owl in the circle – encapsulates what’s been happening at the Library for the past 150 years.

A library is a place where circles at times intersect and at other times widen concentrically. Within those circles are life experiences, interests, and individual philosophies overlapping and interacting as patrons and staff members come together to make the Library what it is: a hub of discovery and learning crisscrossed with well-worn pathways toward satisfying individual curiosity.

Put another way, North-East Assistant Branch Manager Sher Mirador says, “The library’s 150 years of dedication to building the communities in which they stand signifies the interconnectedness of the community members they serve.”

And just as the Library’s role in the community predates every one of today’s members, so, too, has the owl endured through the ages as a symbol of wisdom, intelligence, and quiet thoughtfulness.

Neither is new, yet each is fresh and relevant today.

“The combination of an owl within a circle is a symbol that encourages collaboration in a collective pursuit of wisdom and knowledge,” Mirador says.

Teresa Bolton, director of Central Library operations, reflects on what she saw during the 2023 Summer Reading program, themed All Together Now. She says staff worked to draw people away from the isolation of heavy computer screen use by offering board games, crafts, poetry readings, and musical performances.

“We started things off with an ice cream social and saw people from all walks of life,” Bolton says. “Small children visiting with their parents, staff members on a break, and patrons experiencing houselessness all gathered in that moment to share an ice cream and a story. It does prove that the Library has the power to bring us all together.” 

Panels of patrons, librarians, board members, and consultants donated months of energy and selected the owl in the circle from a slate of 23 possible new logos. Ultimately, they saw it as iconic and simple, suggestive of the Library as an institution of exploration, growth, expertise, and acceptance.

The logo also appealed to the committee as a nod to the past. The circle that holds the owl references the architectural spiral it replaces, and the owl’s open-book brow hearkens back to the fanned volume that stood as the Library’s symbol for many years.

As the Library braces against the unpredictable elements of the coming decades, sheltering those it serves, look for the owl in the circle to unite, inspire, and protect the ideals the community most values.