I interlibrary loaned a book called “Life Style” by Canadian designer Bruce Mau after enjoying his book “Massive Change.” I knew that Mau was involved with some of the planning of the Seattle Public Library but didn’t expect to see a statement about library signage that would resonate so strongly.
It is not without heart-breaking irony that we acknowledge a near-total lack of legibility in our collective repository of typographic history – the typical library. In the beginning, there was one problem, books, and one solution, shelves. When you go into the library now, there are literally hundreds of signs and pieces of furniture provided to deal with each new format. Everything from magazines to DVDs has a cabinet, a users’ manual, an inventory, and an interface. The result is a massive communication problem. While librarians themselves should be commended for their improvisational tactics, overall the patrons confront a constant meddle, with one organizational layer of information Scotch-taped over another. The time has come to imagine a new way. Life Style p. 242 – Bruce Mau
It is pretty easy to come to the conclusion that Dewey Decimal System ® signs in our buildings are metadata (or at the very least, representations of metadata) but what about the operational, directional, and prohibitory signs?
They’re metadata about librarians. They provide information about librarians’ attitudes and priorities.
How are the signs in your library describing you?