Features and considerations: Signage

Library signage needs to be included in the planning process.

Sufficient funds should be allocated for signage at the preliminary costing stage and major signage elements should be planned from an early stage of design. Signage is important in libraries, especially larger ones –many people will not be used to extensive library layouts and may be confused by the wide range of books and other materials on the library shelves.

Categories of signage

Some type of signage include:

  • Street signposting: directional signs indicating the library location from neighbouring streets.
  • Exterior identification: consider relationship to primary address and entry, open space, other important public buildings, scale, visibility, illumination and integration with the architectural design.
  • Entrance signage: including opening hours and returns. Signage and messages in community languages should be included where appropriate.
  • Wayfinding signage: various permanent sign plates to main library spaces, departments and offices.
  • Statutory signage (required by codes and regulations): including exit signs, fire hose reels and boosters etc.
  • Changeable entry and external signage: consider banners, digital signage, adhesive signs on glass with information such as “what’s on in the library”. Include changes to opening hours and availability of library services in times of emergency, as well as emergency information and details of community services. 
  • Collection signage: large signs visible from a distance allow library users to take in at a glance the various sections, collections and service desks.
  • Aisle signage: bays of shelving in public areas will require flexible signage to indicate the contents. Some commercial library signage systems are marketed for this purpose, especially for metal shelving units. Subject headings can be placed on top of shelves, on banners or on shelf ends (either parallel or perpendicular to shelf end) or even in the flooring.
  • Shelf signage: sliding shelf guide systems are designed to indicate the subject content of each shelf as distinct from each bay.
  • Promotional signage: advertise library programs, services and events with thoughtfully designed seasonal flyers, posters etc. Prioritise what needs to be promoted at any one time; avoid overloading the visual environment and reinforce a theme or idea. Opportunities exist to establish partnerships with youth or community groups to design free posters for the library on a regular basis. Consider banners, end of shelf display, wall display, projection and digital screens.
  • Signage in appropriate languages: it is essential that signage reflects the demographics of library clients. Particular consideration should be given to having signage in languages other than English to assist use of the library by non-English speaking clients.
  • Permanent signage: can be designed to integrate a range of wider graphic elements such as historic/cultural imagery, quotations, photographs etc.

All library guides and signs, including their wording and design, should be prepared with the architect and library staff in close consultation. Other libraries and retail environments may be worth visiting for ideas in good professional signage.

External signage

External view of a library building
Shellharbour Library
Public library external sign
Warren Library
External view of red building with library sign
Narellan Library
External library sign with seat
Campsie Library
External view of a library with sign on windows
Carnes Hill Library
External view of a library building
Picton Library

Internal signage

Internal view of library with returns sign
Marrickville Library
Library shelves with signs for information, great reads and large print
Mt Druitt Library
Small desk with PC and borrow here sign
Windsor Library

Collection signage

Library shelves with collection signage
Burwood Library
Metal sign on top of library shelf
Marrickville Library
Library shelves with collection signage
Burwood Library

Digital signage

Digital sign in a library
Guildford Library
Digital sign on wall in a building
Marrickville Library
Digital sign in a library
Oran Park Library

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