I was reading Aaron Schmidt’s most recent post on his blog, Walking Paper, about sign redesign and thinking about a problem we’re having with our new library layout. We had envisioned the lower level of the library to be the quiet study level, due to it’s “off the beaten path” location. (See The Project for more details on our wacky layout)
Aaron states, “We should aim to make our buildings and services so intuitive that little taped-up signs are redundant.” Right now, our quiet study level isn’t causing anyone to intuit quietness- but why?
Well, first of all, we have tables with 4 chairs at them. Second, we have comfy chairs, positioned in groups of 4. And finally, we have a bunch of couches that all face each other.
Houston, we have a furniture problem.
No amount of signs saying “Quiet Study Area!” or “Shhhh!’ are going to visually overpower the fact that the furniture screams out “Get three of your friends and come hang out here!” We’re going to have to fix the furniture, possibly by removing some of the chairs at the tables and repositioning the comfy chairs and couches.
If you keep making signs and no one is heeding them, there’s a good chance something about your library is overriding them. Stepping back and looking at things like furniture type, placement and lighting is one good way to figure out the problem.
I’m a very visual person, and I need to see pretty things to get inspired (even if what I have to do doesn’t have anything to do with visual or pretty things).
I’m managing a few major projects right now, and feeling a little swamped and unfocused. I looked through my Google Reader for some inspiration (in which I found in this AMAZING “when to cite images” poster) but it wasn’t enough. I went for a walk outside with a friend, which also helped, and finally decided to clear my bulletin board and start physically building my project on the board. So, here’s my blank slate:
One thing that you can never really plan for when planning a project is weather related delays.
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been snowing a lot. A real lot. And with every snowstorm, deliveries were delayed, which delayed other work, which delayed even more work. While you obviously can’t anticipate it snowing every week for 2 months, you CAN plan for delays by scheduling your “ready date” several weeks before you actually need to be ready.
This past summer, I was given the opportunity to renovate my library. This came to all of us as a surprise- we were planning on renovating one room, and that one room ballooned into a (much needed) major overhaul. Here are some preliminary photos.
This was the previous 5th floor entrance:
The 5th floor is the main thoroughfare of our college- yet this was a secondary entrance. It was dark, foreboding, and often locked (since it was a secondary entrance).
For years, we had been trying to make students come downstairs to the 4th floor main entrance with signs of all types. Finally, we realized- why don’t we just move upstairs to where they are? We targeted the services we felt needed to be closet to the students and moved them, and we knocked out an office that was between the walkway and the door. Now we have circulation, reference and computers in close proximity to the main entrance, which looks like this:
The room (which was our classroom- that is moving to the 4th floor, to be completed January 2011) looked like this before:
It now looks like this:
and the back hallway (which connects the main entrance to the Collaboration Studio) before:
Changes include: MCT flooring (acoustic, no-wax, easy to maintain) and new paint. We also rearranged the artwork to coordinate with the new color scheme, located matching chairs for the back hallway, and took down those ugly curtains.
Next post: the Collaboration Studio.
To me, libraries are ubiquitous. And so it is important for us to connect with the people, wherever they may be. I’ve just ripped the front off our library and moved the entrance to where the students are, instead of trying to make them come to us. And there’s more than one way to move a library.