I Saw the Sign

Learning to appreciate and spread the joy of good signs at the library | Hafuboti.comI recently completed the most amazing mind-altering continuing education class. The lessons and information that was presented are still echoing in my mind, and have created a shift in how I view my work. I’ve never quite had this level of fundamental shift happen before, and it’s a bit overwhelming. I think that what was shared will continue to effect my self and my work, basically, for the rest of my life. How cool is that?!

At this point, you’re probably dying to know what class I took. It was an online continuing education class offered through the University of Wisconsin and was called Child Development, Library Space, and Behavior. You might recognize the instructor’s name: Bryce of Bryce Don’t Play. If you don’t recognize that name, then please follow the link and start getting to know her! She’s sort of the best (I can say that now without worrying that she’ll think that I’m buttering her up for a pass in her pass/fail class).

She actually shared the core of this class through several blog posts: this one, this one, this one, and this one. I had read those and were amazed, but things didn’t click for me. And now that I’ve gone further in depth with these concepts, there still hasn’t been a traditional “click.” It’s more of a slow transformation and awareness where the changes are slow and sometimes awkward. But I’m aware, and I keep trying in the hopes that some day I will feel truly confident in how I handle everyone who enters our library.

The closest thing to an AHA! moment was the concept of “are we setting up our patrons for success?” I looked around our cute little children’s library and was like, “nope.” In my final paper for the course I shared how I now view people who enter our library: as visitors to a new country. Some people have grown up in and understand this land-o-library, whereas, more often than not, people have no clue the cultural norms or etiquette expected. Perhaps their previous library had drastically different expectations for behavior. It’s our responsibility to welcome anyone who enters and let them know what our rules are. After all, how can they follow rules if they’re not told them?

One big piece of this puzzle was something that I’ve known was missing from our library: signage. I knew it should get done, but I kept dragging my feet for some unknown reason. This class pushed me over the edge, and with my boss’ blessing, we purchased lots of sign holders from a local company. While looking through options, I discovered their slatwall signs and I realized that we had one sliver of slatwall near the activity tables where I could place behavioral signs! I hadn’t even thought that we had room for something like that.

Once the sign holders arrived, I went crazy with sign-making. I totally ripped off ideas from the Seattle Library that Bryce had shared on this post and even found/purchased some early literacy pamphlets. I also stole one more idea from Seattle that I’ll share in a future post – teehee!

The other signs, the behavioral ones, took a bit more work. I searched and searched for images that I could use (hey, I was even willing to pay for them). I needed them to help early or non-readers understand visually the concepts of our rules. After an hour, I decided to make my own. That’s how I roll.

Here are the finished signs (which, after a few days I secured with a glue dot since kids seemed to enjoy sliding them along the slats):Super-awesome close-up action: ENGAGE!

Here are my kid-esque drawings for you to use if you’d like. Click on any of the images below to get a higher-res version for your very own:        

If you’d like me to try and do another one for another expectation, then let me know! These drawings were a lot of fun and pretty easy to do.

One of the most common questions used to be “where is your card catalog?” I haven’t heard that question in well over a month since this went up:I used a wonderful tip that Brooke from Reading with Red shared with me over a year ago: use contact paper to cover the paper. It was so easy to tweak these letters by carefully peeling the contact paper up and shifting things around. You can’t even really see it in this picture!
UPDATE: In 2018 I took some of the contact paper signs down on the wooden surfaces and had to spend over an hour trying to get all of the sticky residue off of the surfaces. Needless to say, I’m a bit hesitant to use contact paper in the future.

I think that the following idea also came from Seattle, but I’m not sure (if you know that it’s from somewhere else, then please let me know!):I tried using contact paper to stick the sign to the wall, but the sign was too heavy. So I used sticky tac and thought that the contact paper would help. Apparently it doesn’t like our textured walls and kept popping up/away. Finally, I wrapped the contact paper around the sign (sort of like wrapping a present) and taped the contact paper down – only the sticky tac is holding up the sign.  It looks so much smoother and professional.

UPDATE: The most recent patron to take advantage of this service was so grateful for it that he brought in a handful of diapers as a “thank you,” while passing it on. Huzzah!

Back in December, I read this fantastic post from Library Lost & Found. I had recently put up “do not reshelve” signs throughout our library. I read that post and my heart sank. And I did nothing about it. Not my proudest moment. But eventually I did, even though I didn’t have space on the shelf tags to explain the why. I’m still pondering how to add that aspect. But here are the modified signs:It’s a step in the right direction :)

Another totally awesome sign I stole from Seattle PL was  what they have in their graphic novels section. Here’s my take on it (it’s sneakily hung from underneath the top of the bookcase and “floats” above the first shelf):One of the more upsetting things I overhear is caregivers telling kids things like, “You may only get one comic book, the rest need to be real books.” UUUUUGGGGHHHH!!!! I hope that this sign will help convince the naysayers that graphic novels are worthy of respect.

I think that about covers my recent signpalooza. If you have any questions about any or all of this, then don’t hesitate to ask!

10 thoughts on “I Saw the Sign

  1. I love all of these! You have such a talent for breaking things down to a kid’s level of understanding. Also, all of your signs are adorable, of course.

  2. You’re the best! Thank you so much for making your artwork available, yet again. I’m truly humbled by your kind words about my class. I feel like sending this to my mom so she can print out what you said about me and display it on her fridge.

    • Awww! ::melts a little:: I really held back – I mean, there was no “mental feasts” mentioned ;) I truly loved your class and I know its lessons are going to reverberate throughout the rest of my life. I am beyond grateful that you went for it and created this. ::hugs::

  3. I’m currently obsessed with making clear signage for my library. Thank you for showing what you’ve done AND including the artwork. I can’t wait to clear it with my boss and start putting up new signs!!!

  4. Just discovered your site. WOW! what a great resource. Love your signage blog. I will definitely be going thru your past blogs once I finish end of the year mess and the weeding of Bios that I started in a fit of crazy!
    Lots of great ideas. thank you!

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