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« What's the place of futurists? | Main | Dangerously irrelevant libraries »

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs
Blockin' up the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign - Five Man Electrical Band

I walk into too many libraries with signs like this:


What might happen if we replaced our welcome signs with ones like these?


Where would kids learn best?

OK, let me have it.

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Reader Comments (30)

We've considered putting a sign up as you leave the library: "Please remember to turn on your cell phone"

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLazygal

Isn't that the sad truth?! Time to turn the shushing bun's frown upside down. Embrace you patrons with open arms and can do attitudes.

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCWF

This is something we all need to think about very seriously. Why are we so concerned about control issues? At the Chelmsford, MA H.S. Library, A facility I recently helped renovate, a school library that is now truly a learning commons and a national model, signage encourages students to learn. In that library, surrounding the information desk in large letters one sees "ask", "think", and "create". We need to have school libraries that are welcoming, not libraries where librarians are in charge, and where students are greeted with rules.

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRolf Erikson

My students know that I call these "Swimming Pool Rules" - you know how when you walk into a swimming pool area and there's this huge billboard-type sign with all of the "NO" rules posted? And guess what: When we brainstorm group rules or even when we talk about how we can respect self, others, and property, virtually all students talk about "no" and "don't" rules. For some reason they seem to find it really hard to talk about what we SHOULD

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Follmuth

Sorry, didn't finish... We all find it difficult to talk about what we SHOULD do and instead emphasize what we DON'T want students to do.

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Follmuth

When posting something for my student patrons, I always try to phrase it as a positive statement. Your sign is worded perfectly!

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

I had to laugh when I saw this because this is exactly the kind of signs that Michael Stephens likes to post on his blog. It must be catching!

Hey, wait - maybe it is catching -- or maybe it will catch on!

November 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFloyd Pentlin

I love it! I might post it tomorrow!

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Yliniemi

Just last week I was in a middle school library with a sign similar to the first one and pulled out my iPhone to take a picture of it. The librarian told me to put it away, reminding me that "the rules apply to adults as well".

I just sent your post to our Director of Library Services and a few others in her group. She will not like it but I'm sure her coordinator for middle and high schools will forward it to all of those librarians, which is where I most often see signs like these. This is also a topic I will bring up when I do a session for the library inservice day in January. Thanks for the inspiration.

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Can't imagine anyone arguing with rules worded in a way that describes the behaviors we want to see. The rules in our elementary school library: 1) Please walk in the library, 2) Respect yourself, others, and materials.
We talk quite a bit about why these rules are important and about how the second one covers SO many aspects of the way we behave in public spaces. The kids totally get it and appreciate the lack of "no no no no"

Looking forward to seeing you in Tallin!
Sarah Ducharme
American Int'l School of Budapest

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Ducharme

I really liked the second one. I think the students would love it. I lowed the way the rules were worded. In the positive, adn asking for the behaviors we want tot see.

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Love it, Doug. You nailed it.

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

I LOVE these new rules Doug! I think that every child, teacher, and patron at our schools should see libraries as places where anyone can come to THINK, LEARN, CREATE, and as our library motto states....Have a VOICE!

Thanks for sharing this. :)

November 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Thanks for this nice article. Its content is really informative. I appreciate it. It is nice to visit this site. So Keep posting such a way as I can keep visiting this blog very often.

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervitamin d

I really like the new expectations sign. Too bad many of them directly contradict some of our school rules such as: no cell phones in school, no personal computers, no food outside the cafeteria etc. I think school libraries would be much friendlier and relevant places if schools were not so worried about being sued. What if a cell phone or personal computer gets damaged or stolen. From my understanding, at least here, it is the schools responsibility and the reason they do not allow them in school. Then there is the issue of food allergies. If we could all take responsibility for ouselves and our personal property there could be the potential of making our libraries and our schools more fun, innovative and relevant places for students and staff.

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Novotarski

The time is now - thank you for putting it into words. We are hearing these positive solutions voiced around the world. I say, let's create a campaign to change the image and the signs. Lets presume positive intentions, have some real, engaged, global learning in the K12 libraries and be known for it rather than the visual image of the lady's face with her lips scrunched up with her pointy finger in front of them telling us to be quiet! We need instead to be known around the world for being a place of listening and being heard - great conversations of deep, critical, engaged thinking.

Many are "there" and doing "that". We just need to make it a conscious campaign and market the new image to change permanently, positively the image of the library.

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterConnie Masson

Hey Doug,
Absolutely right on, as usual. I worked as a page in the Ramsey County Library one year when I was between jobs. At that time, (maybe still) Ramsey Co. was one of the top ten libraries in the country for customer service. Once, while I was there, they held a workshop day that every employee had to attend. The whole day was devoted to customer service. One of the tasks that day was to rewrite negative messages into possitve messages. It wasn't always that easy. The lesson I learned that day has served me well.

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTori Jensen

Yes, please, to option number 2! Unfortunately not yet a reality in my place of work, and not yet the battle I'm willing to focus on...

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLibby

My guess is that it probably took about the same amount of time to make both signs, yet they are vastly different. It is a great example that sometimes it doesn't take any additional time or effort to have a major impact -- either positive or negatively -- and it is up to us to choose the route we're going to take. I know which one I prefer!

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Harvey

I'm thankful to report that such signs are few and far between in public and TAFE (=polytechnic) libraries here in Sydney, even where such rules exist! Of course people can't borrow without a card, but we don't need to put it up in letters a foot high anywhere. My boss has, however, put up a small and discreet sign advising that we will contact Security if a child is left alone in the library... yes, some people will dump their kids here before classes (I suggested that we should say, "Any child left unattended in the library will be given an espresso and a puppy").

When giving the library tour, I always start by explaining that our role is to help students get through their courses with the best marks they can, and it's amazing how often this is a revelation to them, and a relief.

November 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Hrebeniuk

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