Getting libraries to take typography seriously is a bit of a hard sell. I certainly understand that there are bigger picture issues for us to think about. And I get that fretting over the shapes of letters can seem a bit precious.
But the typography we use affects how our members perceive us. So it is worth thinking about.
A short paper titled The Aesthetics of Reading [pdf] confirms that good typography leads to better experiences. I found this bit about perceived elapsed time particularly interesting:
…we found that participants in the poor typography condition underestimated their reading time by 24 seconds on average, while participants in the good typography condition underestimated their reading time by 3 minutes and 18 seconds on average.
The study also reports that good typography can make people more creative and in a better mood!
With the candle task we found that 4 of 10 participants successfully correctly solved the task in the good typography condition while 0 of 9 participants correctly solved the task in the poor typography condition. This is a reliable difference, ?2 (1) = 2.47, p < .05. This indicates that participants in the good typography condition were in a better mood before starting the candle task then were the participants in the poor typography condition.
Having read this paper, I now feel more justified to blather on about typography. (Consider yourself warned.)
Dmitry Fadeyev at Usability Post has a nice summary of the paper: Effects of Typography on Reader Mood and Productivity