Mr./Ms. Library Director: Tear Down This Sign!

A question posted to the ILI-L discussion list concerned QR codes and cell phones. The questioner wanted to know about libraries’ policies that forbid the use of cell phones. How could QR codes be implemented if you can’t use your cell phone to take a picture!? It got me thinking about library signage and policies. Here’s my favorite photo of a “no cell phone” sign:

Image from Flickr, courtesy of Travelin’ Librarian.

I don’t know what to focus on! You get a red “X,” red lettering, capital letters, exclamation points, and it’s signed “Library Director,” to boot. It’s a bit much, don’t you think? Libraries need to adapt to changing technologies. Not everyone on a cell phone is having a conversation. They could be browsing a mobile version of the library’s website, or a database. Maybe a patron just texted a call number to him/herself (I do that all the time!)? And yes, they could even be using the camera to take a picture of a QR code, or of a book they find interesting. For another “negative” sign, check out this photo from Flickr–another jumble of negativity!

For me, common courtesy (no loud conversations, take extended conversations to lobby, etc.) and common sense policy (e.g., creating “quiet zones” and “noisy” zones) are key. Working to create a comfortable, inviting, and courteous environment is more useful and advantageous in the long run, than one that’s inherently negative. Do you want to be the “shushing” librarian stereotype? I don’t.

If you haven’t browsed the Library Signage group on Flickr, it’s definitely worth a look. Take for example, a “positively” worded cell phone sign from Community College of Allegheny County. Or you can even be a bit more “informal” (yada, yada, yada) as is the Republican Valley Library System in Nebraska. When I worked at Southern New Hampshire University, we had a sign that read Texting Encouraged – suggesting a viable alternative without being negative.

Texting Encouraged

Texting Encouraged

What are your thoughts on no-cell phone signs, library policies, and library signage in general? Got some examples? Please share!

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