Library Signage : Navigation / Display Signs

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Information about Library Signage : Navigation / Display Signs

Published on October 5, 2008

Author: Devadason


LIBRARY NAVIGATION SIGNS : LIBRARY NAVIGATION SIGNS F. J. DEVADASON Slide 2: The Kansas State Library introductory video is excellent. I was wonderstruck by the cool clip embedded in Cindi Hickey’s posting on the Facebook. The state library is beautiful with its lofty columns, marble floor and gorgeous stairs and stacks. I haven’t got a chance to visit yet. But the clip does not show any display signs indicating the location of the various types of resources and the subject distribution of the different documents inside the library. Francis J. Devadason Slide 3: Almost all Libraries in South Asia have an elaborate scheme of navigation signs, indicating the location of the type of resources and the distribution of the resources according to the topics / subjects. In the following pictures, though you may find an over cluttering of these signs, some how this has become a normal practice in South Asian libraries. Francis J. Devadason Slide 4: Perhaps the reason for this is the required course (compulsory subject ) on “Library Administration” for the students of Library and Information Science. The method of compiling these navigation signs forming the Aisle (gangway), Section (bay), Plank (tier) and Range / Rack / Shelf Index are mentioned in the book :"Library administration by S.R.Ranganathan. Asia Publishing House, Bombay. 1959". A reference to these are available at : Francis J. Devadason Slide 5: The following slide shows the entrance to the Central Library of Indian Institute of Technology (MIT of South India), Chennai ( Madras). The whole institute is built in a forest, and the land was given with the understanding that minimum of trees would be cut to build the various buildings required for the institute. So the buildings are of different shapes and orientation in the campus. Francis J. Devadason Slide 6: To comply with these conditions, this library building was built with lots of twists and turns inside and the entrance looks like an entrance to a treasure cave. So the Librarians took all precautions in informing “where is what” at the entrance itself, making it look as shown next. Francis J. Devadason Slide 7: Francis J. Devadason Slide 8: Francis J. Devadason Slide 9: This is the entrance to the then National Information Centre for Leather and Allied Industries, Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai. It has all the necessary navigation signs. This picture shows one such kept at the entrance. Francis J. Devadason Aisle / Gangway Sign in the British Library, Bangalore : Aisle / Gangway Sign in the British Library, Bangalore Francis J. Devadason Section / Bay Sign : Section / Bay Sign Francis J. Devadason Slide 12: Plank / Tier Sign Francis J. Devadason Slide 13: This is Asian Institute of Technology Library, Bangkok. Notice that each row of shelves has the range of Class numbers posted on top and below that an Index of subjects of the documents stored on them. Francis J. Devadason Slide 14: AIT Library stack room Rack / Range Index Francis J. Devadason Slide 15: One of the ancient techniques to make the Library user-friendly is to provide a "customized" subject route-map of the library, through, necessary and sufficient number of  “Aisle / Gangway, Section / Bay, Plank / Tier and Shelf / Range Index sign boards" indicating the topics / subjects of documents shelved in particular locations. This of course is after posting the range of class numbers as location symbols on the shelves. Francis J. Devadason Slide 16: The method of forming these Signs is simple. The books are to be arranged strictly according to call number sequence. Then the book on the middle of each plank is to be picked up. Its class number is to be translated into the natural language forming the name for the topic represented by the class number. Francis J. Devadason Slide 17: You may use the topic name given in the classification schedule or use any standard subject heading. But, the best is to make it a natural language, user-friendly phrase rather than follow the syntax of any of the subject heading schemes. It would be wiser to avoid any inverted rendering of the terms. This is because these topic headings are not for any alphabetization to form an index, but to form the Plank / Tier sign. Francis J. Devadason Slide 18: Plank / Tier Sign Francis J. Devadason Slide 19: Also, it is better to reflect the terminology of the patrons. If it is an academic library, it would be better to form these sign boards according to the course titles taught!  Care must be taken to see that the same plank / tier does not have two mutually exclusive topics -- half Physics and the other half Chemistry. In such a case two plank / tier signs are needed for the same plank. Francis J. Devadason Slide 20: Whenever there is a change in the subject, then that should be reflected in the Tier Signs . This does not mean that one plank should be cluttered with many tier signs. It may be necessary to shift the books to properly accommodate the tier signs. Francis J. Devadason Slide 21: The Section / Bay Sign board should give the name of the topic which comprehends all the topics of all the tier signs for that section / bay. This is easy as a super-ordinate class for all the class numbers for the tier signs in that bay could be easily found out by checking the classification scheme. Francis J. Devadason Section / Bay Sign : Section / Bay Sign Francis J. Devadason Slide 23: The Aisle / Gangway Sign board will incorporate a topic comprehending all the section /bay signs on each side of the row. If necessary, there can be two such, one for each of the rows of the sections / bays Francis J. Devadason Aisle / Gangway Sign in the British Library, Bangalore : Aisle / Gangway Sign in the British Library, Bangalore Francis J. Devadason Slide 25: The Rack / Range / Shelf Index sign board for one side of the row of “sections / bays" is formed as an Index by compiling the topics of all the plank / tier signs on that side. Care should be taken in forming this index to the shelves. If the number of individual topic headings is far too many, then some unimportant ones could be eliminated or consolidated using more comprehensive / super-ordinate subject names. Francis J. Devadason Slide 26: AIT Library stack room Rack / Range Index Francis J. Devadason Slide 27: Topics representing subject interest of the patrons , as ascertained by need analysis studies must be given preference in forming the entries in the sign.  All signs must have the corresponding class numbers too ! Francis J. Devadason Slide 28: The topics selected for the Aisle /Gangway, Section / Bay, Plank / Tier and Range / Rack / Shelf Index sign boards would automatically reflect the subject interest of the patrons, as the collection would have been selected on the basis of their interest and information needs, as ascertained by proper need analysis studies.. Francis J. Devadason Slide 29: These Library Navigation Signs would form the topic route map of “the patrons’ own customized " library. Perhaps such a map approach would be very useful to guide the patrons to the different digital resources too. Patrons may not know the existence of digital databases in spite of the web pages and lists on the web. Perhaps by the side of these sign boards, the existence of related digital resources could also be mentioned. Francis J. Devadason Slide 30: Instead of the non-customized, "standard summary table" of classification scheme, which at times is misleading because it may list class numbers and subjects not represented in the collection, a floor plan / map of subject distribution, placed at appropriate places would be a welcome sign to the patrons. Francis J. Devadason Slide 31: Though library floor plans displayed prominently at appropriate places make the patrons feel at ease, these subject navigation sign boards make them feel at home. Even new comers may not feel as though they are in a forest. Francis J. Devadason Slide 32: Once these Library Navigation sign boards are set in place, it has been observed that crowding at the catalog terminals/ PCs diminish. Even if the computer network fails, patrons will not be embarrassed. Staff too need not worry during network failures. They can direct the patrons using these signs. Francis J. Devadason Slide 33: Hesitant look on the face of new patrons will vanish in no time once they eye these signs. Browsing the stacks and the books on the shelves will become a common sight and accidentally finding more useful information (serendipity) and shouts of "Eureka" can be heard. Francis J. Devadason Slide 34: You need not put up every type of navigation sign in every library. You have to select the necessary and sufficient ones. The basic sign is the Rack / Range / Shelf Index. In ,my small library, I have done just that. But this has resulted in gaining a lot of time to render many other useful library services as my special patrons (inmates) do not keep coming and asking me for the location of books on specific topics. They can find it for themselves. Francis J. Devadason Slide 35: One or two cautions though. Influential patrons, especially professors, may insist on seeing the topics of their interest posted prominently on the navigation signs ! These navigation signs, need updating, modification and relocation, to reflect the current status of the collection; and it is an ongoing process !  Also, please do not forget to put the corresponding class numbers in these navigation signs ! Pay attention to the font and background and foreground colors as there may be patrons with difficulty in distinguishing colors. Francis J. Devadason

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