After a recent seminar I attended on e-resources for further education, see below post, and a re-watching of the excellent 1980 series The Shock of the New written and presented by Robert Hughes, I have come to two conclusions. Firstly, that language is very important for creating a suitable learning environment.
The second being that signs do not change behaviour, especially the behaviour of the people the signs are normally aimed at. Robert Hughes said, “Pictures educate, signs discipline”. In my library I am interested in educating all learners and not disciplining them. I aim for the library to be a transformative space, a space which raises the information literacy and aspirations of all its learners. Not a space which hits learners over the head with rules.
In my previous position at Northbrook College Sussex we have no signs in the library about no food or no mobiles. Can you guess how much of a problem we experienced with learners eating and chatting on phones? Almost none at all!
No area is perfect. Learners will always push boundaries to see what they can and cannot get away with. I believe that it is by building up a relationship with your learners and helping them to appreciate the role the library can play in their lives that they learn to respect the environment and behave accordingly.
I know that my vision of a library utopia free of all signs is out of reach for a lot of institutions. If you must have signs, please follow these simple rules which I have been developing since 2001: Please avoid comic sans; please laminate your signs; please hang them straight; please avoid the use of the word “no”. Language is very important!