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Signs for the Library

Page history last edited by Sue Sherif 15 years, 3 months ago

Outside the Library

If you do not have a visible sign within your school for the library or if you are a combined school/community library and want to let people know on the outside of the building or on the road, you may request a blue and white road sign with the universal library symbol from the Alaska State Library Anchorage office.  Call 269-6570 or 1-800-776-6566 (in Alaska, outside of Anchorage).


Inside the Library

A sign system is a means of making your library easier to use by providing information and simple instructions for the location and use of items in your collection. Signs help people become more independent and will free you to do more important things. The purposes of signs include:


  • Identification: The library, reference materials, fiction, biography, magazines.
  • Direction: Workroom, restrooms
  • Instruction: How to use equipment, materials
  • Information: Hours, special events Elements of Good Signage
  • Location - Place signs where they are visible and at a height where they can be seen and attract attention. A sign placed so low that it is hidden when someone stands in front of it isn't particularly useful. Think of the size of the person to whom the sign is directed.
  • Message - Keep it short, use terms that most people will understand and be positive. Try "Please dispose of gum" rather than "No gum chewing allowed in library."
  • Symbols - Use symbols if they are simple, effective and easily understood. There are no language barriers to understanding when a good symbol is used.
  • Lettering - The letters of the alphabet can vary from short to tall and in thickness. The letters need to be in proportion of width (thickness) to height for ease in reading. Make sure the words are of a size and shape to be legible from the distance you want the sign to be read.
  • Color - Color combinations and contrast effect readability. The following list from Sign Systems in Libraries are the most visible color combinations, with 1 being the most visible:
    • Black on yellow
    • Black on white
    • Yellow on black
    • White on blue
    • Yellow on blue
    • Green on white
    • Blue on yellow
    • White on green
  • Space - The amount of space between letters and between words also affects readability. Blank, empty space around the edges of the lettering allows the background color to frame the message. This helps to attract attention and to improve readability.
  • Durability - Exterior signs should be painted or carved, or treated in some fashion, to withstand the weather.


Even without an artist's hand, neat, legible interior signs can be prepared by unskilled people. Library and office supply firms sell several products for sign making; pressure sensitive letters, gummed letters, lettering kits and sign machines. Signs can be made on the computer, enlarged and printed on a laser printer. Many schools have an Ellision or Accu-Cut machine with alphabets and cut-out designs in various sizes. Your resources, budget and creativity will determine your choices for signage.

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