Libraries play a fundamental role in society. Most importantly, the resources and services libraries offer allow people the access to books. Which in turn can cause individuals to get lost in beautiful stories and experience new ideas. In other words, as Albert Einstein famously said, ‘the only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.’ At the library, there are many different library signs relating to which books are new, where to find which sections as well as a floor plan or map to help locate specific books or genres. This is also referred to as library signage.
There is an issue however. Any person who’s ever stepped foot in a library will tell you, these gateways to knowledge aren’t always easy to navigate especially for new visitors. Thankfully, libraries have librarians and other staff members to guide patrons in their quest for knowledge. The library staff are also able to answer questions about the internet, computers, resume writing, job applications, and more. But these staff members have other work that occupy their time. This is where library signage can comes into play. Libraries can use digital signage to help guests find their way (wayfinding signage) or inform them of new books! Saving the library staff time, which they can allocate to other work related tasks.
In 2019, there were roughly 184,500 librarians, 36,250 library technicians, and 87,000 library assistants employed in public libraries, schools, higher education institutions, museums and archives, as well as private organizations that have libraries. That’s a lot of time and money wasted on giving people directions!
What Is Library Signage?
Library signage refers to visual graphics used to convey important information to visitors. Firstly, these visual graphics can communicate information such as where to find the books you are looking for, how to print, and where to get coffee and other amenities. Secondly, libraries can use signs to communicate house rules. Libraries can use digital signage as a wayfinding means to help visitors navigate the maze of floors and the variety of resources. It’s key to place the digital signage displays in high traffic areas so that the most library patrons can view it.
Types of Library Signs
Evidently, library signs are essential. There are different types of library signage out there, depending on the kind of message you are looking to convey. The first distinction is static or digital? Do you want signs that you can update immediately or ones that have to be printed and reprinted? In this section, we look at the different types of signs libraries can use to make it easier for patrons to access resources.
Directional or wayfinding library signage or posters help users get from where they are to where they want to be. They help new users orient themselves upon entry and work out where they need to go. Wayfinding digital signage helps patrons locate specific library areas (restroom, study rooms, library media center, etc.), special events, elevators, and other facilities.
In a library, information signs supplement users with useful tips while navigating. It saves library staff time and allows library visitors to be aware of general information such as library hours, the library’s website and what upcoming communities events are happening. Readability is key. Therefore, informational signage should use symbols and icons that are universally understandable. Infotainment is another keyword being used to inform and entertain audiences viewing your displays or static signs.
Regulatory signs aim to enforce rules, provide guidelines, and influence user behavior. They inform users about the regulations and requirements in place or provide instructions. Regulatory signage defines what is and isn’t acceptable in the library. The message on a regulatory library sign should provide clear guidance in capital letters. The goal is to keep community members safe.
These are just a handful of examples of what digital signage displays can help within a library setting. Signage is a key part of communication and is essential for promoting safety and accessibility in the library. When a librarian is not available to assist, signage can help users navigate the complex information world of any library. Therefore, library signage is a powerful visual tool for communication that can instruct, guide, and welcome new library users. On the other hand, insufficient signage or poor signage can only cause chaos and confusion in the library.