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Signage proves to be a powerful tool for the purposes of communication in library settings. For instance, library signage can welcome patrons as well as guide and instruct patrons as they navigate what can sometimes be the complex backdrop of a library. Even so, signage can be somewhat problematic in practice. Such issues can result in patrons feeling confused and even anxious. This can be particularly true in a large library complex. By following a few design tips, libraries can vastly improve the experience of patrons.

In large, multi-level libraries, one of the most frequently asked questions at helps desks are requests for directions. Way-finding signs can help to reduce such questions, but it is important to take both behavioral and spatial approaches into consideration when designing way-finding signs for libraries.

First, it should be kept in mind that too many signs and signage that includes too much information can cause patrons to feel a sense of information overload. The key to creating successful library signage is to actually avoid jargon that might make sense to librarians but would feel unfamiliar to patrons. Instead, signage should include language that is personal and friendly.

Ideally, library signage should feature the most important information in a large font that seeks to grab attention. Any extraneous information may then be presented in a smaller typeface for those patrons who are willing to stop and take the time to read. Libraries may also find it helpful to include their social media hashtags on signage. This may prove to be critically important for school and university libraries where students may choose to engage with the library through social media outlets.

Way-finding and directional signage are intended to assist patrons is making their way from one point to another point in the library. Such signage is also important for helping patrons orient themselves when they first enter the building and determine where they need to make their way next. Way-finding signage in a library may also assist patrons in locating specific collections in the library or even to locate facilities, such as computers, bathrooms, water fountains, and printers.

Key considerations in determining where to place signage include where patrons might be most likely to slow down or stop as they decide where to go next in the building. Additionally, consider the height of placement for directional signage. Users tend to ignore signs hanging above eye level or even hanging from the ceiling. A better approach is to place signs prominently at elevators, doors, and stairways. Finally, signs should be consistent in design and color.