Out with the Old, In with the New: Best Practices for Replacing Library Signageby Mark Aaron Polger, Amy F. Stempler

Public Services Quarterly

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Year
2014
DOI
10.1080/15228959.2014.904210
Subject
Public Administration / Accounting

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Public Services Quarterly

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Out with the Old, In with the New: Best

Practices for Replacing Library Signage

Mark Aaron Polger a & Amy F. Stempler a a City University of New York , Staten Island , New York , USA

Published online: 19 May 2014.

To cite this article: Mark Aaron Polger & Amy F. Stempler (2014) Out with the Old, In with the

New: Best Practices for Replacing Library Signage, Public Services Quarterly, 10:2, 67-95, DOI: 10.1080/15228959.2014.904210

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15228959.2014.904210

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ARTICLES

Out with the Old, In with the New: Best

Practices for Replacing Library Signage

MARK AARON POLGER and AMY F. STEMPLER

City University of New York, Staten Island, New York, USA

Signage is an essential way of communicating with users and is a vital way to alert patrons to important information, news, upcoming events, policies, and directions. Literature on library signage has emphasized the importance of consistency and clarity, to avoid clutter and contradictory messaging, and the need for buy-in from library staff, faculty and patrons. However, few scholarly studies address user preferences in signage. This article fills the void between theory and practice, and offers step-by-step details for revamping signage, specifically in an academic library.

At the heart of the authors’ thesis is that library signs are living documents. Libraries are always in the process of reinventing themselves, and library signage must adapt to the constant movement of a library ‘‘in motion.’’ If properly designed and well placed, library signage should help create a meaningful experience for its patrons. This study is a follow-up to the article, ‘‘Do You See the Signs?: Evaluating Language, Branding, and Design in a

Library Signage Audit,’’ which outlined the first stage of the authors’ signage redesign project. This article addresses the implementation of new signage, which includes developing best practices, a signage policy, gaining departmental buy-in, developing a signage map, and creating new signs. # Mark Aaron Polger and Amy F. Stempler

Received 30 December 2013; accepted 11 March 2014.

Address correspondence to Mark Aaron Polger, College of Staten Island Library, City

University of New York, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Building 1L, Staten Island, NY 10314. E-mail:

MarkAaron.Polger@csi.cuny.edu

Public Services Quarterly, 10:67–95, 2014

Published with license by Taylor & Francis

ISSN: 1522-8959 print=1522-9114 online

DOI: 10.1080/15228959.2014.904210 67

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KEYWORDS library signage, marketing, public relations, user experience, academic libraries

INTRODUCTION

To paraphrase DiMattia (2005), signs, like those posting the speed limit on a highway, are often considered a suggestion and not a requirement. They are sometimes so overlooked that patrons brush them aside to ask library staff a question that was address in the very sign they moved (McMorran &

Reynolds, 2010). However, signage is an essential means of communicating with users, and is often a vital way to alert patrons to important information, news, upcoming events, policies, and directions. Literature on library signage has emphasized the importance of consistency and clarity in signs and to avoid clutter and contradictory or harsh messaging. Beyond these recommendations, there remains a lack of specifics about creating a comprehensive in-house signage system. The literature has also noted the need for buy-in from library staff, faculty, and patrons, but there are few scholarly studies directly related to user preferences in signage. This article will report survey data to fill the void between theory and practice, and offer step-by-step details for revamping signage, specifically in an academic library.

At the heart of the authors’ thesis is that library signs are living documents. Libraries are always in the process of reinventing themselves. They cannot remain stagnant or they will lose their relevance. Libraries attempt to meet user needs by introducing new services and addressing gaps in their collections. Library signage must adapt to the constant movement and flux of a library ‘‘in motion.’’ If properly designed and well placed, library signage should help create a meaningful experience for its patrons. Therefore, a flexible system needs to be in place that can provide uniformity, but allows for user feedback and to reflect new resources, services, and policies. Regular updates are also necessary to keep signs looking clean and fresh, thereby more noticeable and effective. This study is a follow-up to the article ‘‘Do