November 2nd, 2010 Brian Herzog
Yesterday afternoon, patrons suddenly started asking our Circulation staff why there was a man on our front steps holding a "Free Hugs" sign.
This was news to us, and since there were also a couple complaints, our Head of Circulation walked out and told the man that he can't do that on library property. The man, very nicely and politely, said okay and left.
It was a little strange, and got us thinking - why can't he do that? Our first thought was that it violated our "no soliciting" policy - but technically he was giving out hugs, not asking for them. We couldn't come up with a hard and fast rule that he was breaking, other than it was creeping out patrons and affecting their library use - which does violate our Appropriate Library Behavior policy.
But come on, hugs? I know libraries are open public buildings, and we need to make sure everyone feels comfortable using them. But when the free hugs guy gets banned, maybe dialing back the fear and restoring sanity isn't a bad idea.
But it gets better - a few hours later I saw this tweet:
Apparently he went from the library to the Town Center, where loads of people were out holding campaign signs (loitering?) - and someone called the cops on him for his "Free Hugs" sign.
Tags: appropriate, behavior, free hugs, libraries, Library, Policies, policy, public, sign, signs, soliciting
June 24th, 2010 Brian Herzog
I passed this church sign while walking around Ottawa:
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."
April 9th, 2009 Brian Herzog
The 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
August 7th, 2008 Brian Herzog
In 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.
April 24th, 2008 Brian Herzog
Now 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:
- 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