Library signage

The way we communicate to our readers by the signs we put in our libraries speaks volumes.

For example:

Follow these 3 Rules of Etiquette

I know there’s a good reason for these rules, but it would sound so much better if it were phrased along the lines of:

1. Please eat away from the library – keep it clean

2. Enjoy your drinks away from the computers

3. This is a quiet study space – please use [other named area] for discussions

I’m pretty sure that the persistent offenders will ignore any signs, whether written in positive or negative language, so that leaves the majority of appropriately-behaved library users as your sign’s audience – so it makes sense to address them politely and exemplify the behaviour you want, rather than making a list of No or Don’t instructions.



3 Responses to “Library signage”

  1. Owen Massey McKnight Says:

    Rewriting prohibitions by supplying examples of good behaviour seems to be a sensible principle. I am currently wondering how to rephrase a similar injunction in My Place Of Work, which lacks the luxury of refreshment areas and group discussion rooms!

    I wonder whether the library literature has any comparisons of the effectiveness of positive and negative language?

    • Laura Wilkinson Says:

      I did a quick search for library signage in LISA a few weeks ago but turned up very little. I’m hoping to gather lots of examples of good and bad practice and then put something together myself!

  2. Teresa Says:

    I also learnt (on a Staff Dev event :)) that your brain does not process negative information straightforward, e.g.: No Food in library is processed is your brain as “Food in library” and only then the negative “no food in library” and it is not immediate.

    That’s why we react to positive orders but take longer to react to negative orders (so they say)!

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