or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk




Google is not The Way to Salvation

   June 24th, 2010 Brian Herzog

I passed this church sign while walking around Ottawa:

Google Church Sign

I'm used to hearing the "Google is not as good as libraries" rhetoric, so it was funny to see another profession facing the same struggle. By the way, Bibles in my library are shelved at 220.5/Bibl - maybe our slogan should be, "find a library, find your way."



Tags: , , , , , ,



Open To All ~ At All Times

   April 9th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Open To All ~ At All Times signThe biggest oversight when my library was built was that they only put in one Quiet Study Room.

It is constantly in use, and constantly in demand. Because people want a quiet place to close the door and spread out, we do what we can to accommodate them - or they do.

When otherwise not in use, we let people use the Conference Room as a quiet study room. We also have a Local History Room, and many people decide to go in there and close the door.

And this is the root of the latest controversy in my library. Our Local History Room contains our local history resources, and, by library policy, is Open To All* patrons whenever the library is open. Which means anyone can go into this room, and if someone is already in there, they have to share.

However, we've recently had a spate of patrons closing the door and telling other patrons the room was reserved, and they couldn't come in. This confused patrons and irritated staff, so we finally had to put signs up on the Local History Room door to very clearly spell out our policy.

As you may know, I have a reputation for taking down signs, so I wanted to make sure this sign was clear and effective - and I think it is. Since it went up, we haven't had any problems. People still go in and close the door, but no more intra-patron intimidation, and that is a good thing.

Oh and by the way, I hung a sign both on the outside as well as on the inside of the door - that way when someone does close the door, they can't claim they didn't see the sign.

 


*I was inspired by the entrance to the library in Groton, MA.

 



Tags: , , , , , , , ,



Button: Not For Children

   August 7th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Not For ChildrenIn response to a comment on my post about good and bad library signs, I'm posting this photograph, too.

These are the signs next to the button that automatically opens the Library's front doors, to provide easy entrance to people who have trouble opening the door.

As the comment mentioned, it of course is a great play thing for children. I don't know how effective our signs are, but I have a feeling that the big arrow is probably irresistible to kids - even those who can't read.

But I think signs, in general, are band-aids, and a real solution (or the real problem) lies in the very design. I don't know how this could be designed differently, but there's got to be a more effective approach to the situation.



Tags: , , , , , , ,



Library Signs, Good and Bad

   April 24th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Bad Library SignNow that April 15th has passed, I've started taking down my library's tax forms display, and all the signs in the library pointing to it.

I found the sign pictured here taped to the library's front door, which got me thinking about good and bad library signs. This is definitely a bad sign - questionable colors, second sign taped over top, and remnants of tape from when it was hung last year. I hadn't noticed this one before, which is what I get for using the staff entrance (we should all use the patron entrance more often to see what the public sees). I'm all for recycling, but we can definitely do better.

When it comes to signs, I think the fewer the better. Over the last two years, I have secretly been taking down signs in my library - no one has seemed to notice, and the library looks a lot cleaner.

I'm always interested in signs and marketing, so here are other examples of good and bad library signs - check out the Library Signage flickr group for more:

Good

Bad

  • Don't Touch Sign - not only overly-negative, but counter-productive
  • No Cutting or Gluing - I guess the sign just supports a policy, so it's actually the policy I don't understand
  • Don't Move Tables - I don't like how totally inflexible this one is; librarians don't always think of everything
  • Turn Off Cell Phone! - way too negative! And emphatic!
  • Cell Phones are Silent - I like the funny graphic, and that the words don't outlaw cell phones entirely, but I'm not a fan of the big red circle-slash, and in this case it sends a mixed message


Tags: , , , , , , ,