Signs of Change:Rethinking Language, Branding, and Design in Library SignageAmy F. Stempler, Assistant Professor Mark Aaron Polger, Assistant ProfessorCoordinator of Library Instruction Instruction/Reference LibrarianCollege of Staten Island College of Staten IslandCity University of New York City University of New YorkAmy.Stempler@csi.cuny.edu MarkAaron.Polger@csi.cuny.edu
Agenda• Introduction• Background• Survey of Permanent Signage• Circulating Stack Signage Redesign• Signage Audit• Developing a Signage Policy & Best Practices• Conclusion
Introduction• The College of Staten Island (CSI) is a four-year, seniorcollege of the City University of New York (CUNY).• Established in 1976 when Richmond College (1965) and Staten Island Community College (1956) merged.• 204-acre campus is the largest in New York City.• 30,000 square foot, three-floor Library, built in 1993• First stage (or generation) of permanent signage.• Permanent signs installed were ceiling boxes and ceiling lettered text across the wall. • Second phase of signage installed in 1998 related to library policies. • Third phase of signage was 2008 • Fourth phase of signage was 2010
Background•Branding•User experience•Benchmarking with non-library signs
Survey of Permanent SignageFall 2009 survey with 250 respondents, mostly 18-25 years of age• MethodologyMeasured: o Student satisfaction
Survey Results• The eight signs that were analyzed for this study represent informational signage created from when the building was first constructed in 1993, and not policy or directional signs later produced.• The data from the questionnaire illustrates that permanent signage is effective and easily understood.• Most participants found the signage in the library to be “good” or “excellent”.• The only two service points with the least scores of “excellent” were microform and Interlibrary Loan.• As the authors illustrate in their signage audit, policy and directional signs may
Circulating Stack Signage Redesign• The Library building includes a rotunda with a dome. As a result, the space on each floor inhabits four quadrants separated by corridors.• There are approximately 240,000 circulating books are housed in 189 stacks located in three of the four quadrants. The remaining quadrant maintains printed periodicals. Both books and periodicals are housed in double-sided bookshelves.• Before the redesign, the stacks were maintained primarily by handwritten call number signs and aisle numbers typed in black and printed on plain white paper.
Circulating Stack SignageRedesign• Redesign included: o Aisle number signs o Call number range signs o Directional signs o Library of Congress [LC] Classification signs o Stacks List o Map of the third floor linked from the Library’s catalog• The 2008/9 Annual Report noted the major shifting project and additional signage on third floor. The Report stated, “it is believed this action is partly responsible for the 71% increase” in circulating books checked out (from 12,250 titles in 2006/07 to 21,025 titles in 2008/09). Lessons learned
Signage AuditIncluded:• Content analysis of temporary and permanent signs across three floors of the Library• Designated 3 types of signs: policy, informational, and directional• Discovered multiple generations of signs that were inconsistent, contradictory, outdated, ineffective, and punitive.
Developing Best Practices• Creating templates• Use controlled vocabulary (i.e. thesaurus)• Create a sign locator tool
Developing Best PracticesBranding Strategy• Document overall mission, mission statement, brief tagline or slogan, and vision of the department• Clearly illustrate your visual identity for all of your promotional materials, including signs.• Should explicitly discuss colors, fonts, logos• Must defend, protect, and colleagues must be “on board”
Developing Best PracticesDepartmental Buy In • Major aspect of brand development • We need to achieve consensus with colleagues • We must be on the same page • May be uneasy and tense • Bumping heads
Developing Best PracticesSignage Committee• Establish a signage committee for recommendations• Educate others and have scheduled meetings
Designate a Signage Contact Person• Appoint or elect a signage contact person• Signage contact person should do an audit at the beginning and end of each semester for currency and accuracy of signs• Signage contact should prepare reports for Chief Librarian and department• Signage contact is the official auditor of all signs• Understands best practice guidelines
Conclusion• Create sample templates for easy on-the-fly temporary signs• Post templates to your Intranet• Be an expert!• Keep current (signage evolves)• Continue to read the literature• Have meetings to keep colleagues updated and receive feedback