It’s the second to last week of my Library User Experience class. We looked at signs in libraries. Some can be so stern and off-putting. Our challenge was to make signs that were effective, but not off putting.
For my graphic re-design [of a library sign], I thought I’d do one of the signs at my university in China. Above you see the English translation of a sign that explains the librarians’ duties. It’s hard to read, which is a big problem, so I’ll list the duties below with a bit of editing to make the language concise:
- To be devoted to the post and serve the readers wholeheartedly.
- To receive and allocated the books for storage in the library, and do some work such as counting, shelving, mending, culling and [illegible].
- To make statistics and analyze circulation. provide feedback to the head librarian and acquisitions department.
- To arrange the books on the shelves according to classification numbers and to guide the students to read books in the right area.
- To orient the freshmen to the library and to suggest books to students.
- To clean the tables, chairs, bookshelves and other things.
- To be responsible for the use, management and repair of [illegible] in the area.
- To be responsible for water and electricity. To close all the doors and check the windows before closing the library.
- To return lost or forgotten items over to the office.
- To help readers copy materials for learning.
- To fill in the duty diary for shift work.
- To do other duties as assigned.
This sign contains “everything but the kitchen sink.” It’s long and no one wants to read the sign, which contains items that aren’t important to patrons.
Yet in China libraries went through and to an extent are in a dark age. During and after the Cultural Revolution going to the library was dangerous or taboo. School libraries aren’t used much in K-12, they’re mainly for show. Thus students arrive to university with little experience with libraries or librarians. Signs explaining how librarians can help students would serve patrons.
Rather than putting all the information on one sign, I propose putting a few signs that each state one way librarians can serve students. First signs with three important services would appear throughout the library. Then a few more signs with different messages would appear. I suggest beginning with signs on reference service, readers recommendations, and instructional services. More signs can be added. I advise posting a few signs as the librarians aren’t highly trained. So the signs should be added in concert with professional development. For example, train the librarians on reference skills and then put up a sign about it.
I’ve designed a few signs in English and Chinese, using Google Translate, which probably isn’t accurate, but shows how a different font and writing system would look. I wanted to use better fonts, align text for easier reading, incorporate a visual that makes the sign come to life.
I found my images on Storybird.com. I would prefer to find appropriate images by the same artist or even more similar in style.