Sharing images of library signs—especially those related to mobile devices and their use within library buildings—was part of my early focus on how libraries interact with their users via signage. Aaron Schmidt, writing LJ’s User Experience column, has also explored these ideas, most recently in “Signs of Good Design.” Language usually attached to an image of a mobile phone with the red circle and line through it was of this variety: “Violators will be asked to leave,” “Conversations not allowed,” and one signed ominously by “the Library Director.” Other signage you may have seen passed around Buzzfeed and LIS blogs warn that food or drink near library computers would bring “the wrath of the library director.” When did the position of director become so scary? When did we become so mean?
I poked a bit of fun at these signs at the expense of the library that posted them and was called out more than once. But for every bad sign that went up, I believe many more came down, as librarians took to making kindness audits of signage and spaces. “Quiet conversation, please” and “Don’t forget to set your phone to vibrate” are much more user-positive admonitions.