Movable Library

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I believe we’ve got a furniture problem

with 3 comments

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.


Written by jaimehammond

April 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Providing clear visual cues about social behavior expected by furniture type, arrangement, lighting is an excellent idea! Low-height carrels paired with green bankers lamps usually do a better job at signifying a quite study area than many signs. While a good sign is helpful, if a sign is not needed, even better – since some won’t read signs. 🙂


    April 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

  2. Yes, you’re on the right track. I posted this on my site too, but I’ll repeat myself. An important question to ask:

    Why is that area supposed to be a quiet area if people, clearly, don’t want it to be?

    Perhaps there’s another area more suited to quietness. Look around and see where in your library people are being quiet. Learn lessons from that.

    Aaron Schmidt

    April 3, 2011 at 12:06 am

  3. Thanks, Aaron. It’s a struggle- there are definitely people in that area who want quiet, because they come to us complaining about those who are talking. I’ll let you know if I hit on any successful changes!


    April 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm

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