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Library on right track with branding reboot

by Daily Inter Lake
| February 25, 2024 12:00 AM

A decade ago the county library system envisioned a new future for its services that expanded beyond the traditional offering of books on shelves.

The library should be a “launching pad” for dreams and ideas, the library board declared in 2014 in announcing its new name “ImagineIF Libraries.” Along with books and periodicals, the library promised to offer access to technology and experience-based programs, and create a space for camaraderie among patrons.

Over the next 10 years, library staff lived up to that assertion and then some — and they have the accolades to show for it. ImagineIF Libraries was regularly heralded as among the best systems in the state, even claiming Montana Library Association’s Library of the Year award in 2015 for its innovation and vision.

The new branding, however, never quite caught on as imagined. In fact, it might have even caused some confusion about the county’s relationship to the library system and its offerings.

Last week, the ImagineIF Board of Trustees voted to scrap the name in favor of the original moniker Flathead County Libraries.

The decision makes sense, and the public's adjustment to the "new” name should be easy as it is rolled out over the next few years. The library system and patrons should welcome the chance to finally build some positive excitement around a new logo and brand campaign following some years of tumult. A fresh start — or in this case, a reboot — is needed.

Yet, it was disappointing that the decision to move on from ImagineIF was made in such an abrupt manner, with no advanced thought given to the financial costs or logistics of such a maneuver.

While board Vice Chair Carmen Cuthbertson — who posed the idea to return to Flathead County Libraries at last month’s meeting — assured the public that the cost would be minimal, no information was presented to back up that claim. At the very least, there is a cost to designing a new logo, while physical signage at all the branches will need to be updated, along with the look of the system’s websites and printed informational materials.

It would have been prudent for a financially conscious board to gather that information and present it for public review before making such a drastic change. A decision of this caliber shouldn’t have been made on a wing and a prayer.

Going forward, Cuthbertson should take stock of how the name change will actually affect the library’s budget. With the expenses and impact on resources appropriately quantified, Director Teri Dugan can plan accordingly to ensure a smooth rebranding campaign that generates the excitement the board is hoping for.