That got me thinking. What kind of color schemes do different public libraries use in their web designs, and what sort of “vibe” are they conveying by using the particular color palette they use?
There’s certainly a lot of literature out there about the psychology of colors in marketing and advertising. I was reminded of a really fun old book on my shelf, one that I purchased mostly for the color palettes in the centerfold. The book is “New Horizons in Color” from 1951. They break down colors into two categories: “Decorative” and “Functional”.
The scans below show those palettes, and I then sampled the colors used in the websites of a number of major public libraries. I thought the results were pretty interesting, and they are perhaps somewhat telling of the way these libraries and library systems choose to articulate their mission and vision.
Palettes that fell in the “decorative” category were Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Public Library, and Chicago Public Library.
Palettes that fell in the “functional” category were New York Public Library, District of Columbia Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, and the Ann Arbor District Library.
The images below are thumbnails, click on them for a better look.