There are many instances of signs that are unclear, are confusing, or assume knowledge on the part of the customer. Signs posted flat at the ends of stacks that indicate classification numbers are an annoyance when they have been removed or need updating; reprinting them each time that books are moved from range to range may be considered too much trouble. Curtis R. Rogers, communications director at the South Carolina State Library, encourages the creation of a signs policy and advocates for a review of existing signs. He also views signage as part of public relations.
In a course on applied ergonomics, some of Professor Alan Hedge’s students studied the library and made recommendations that merit review. The students differentiated among types of signs: for way finding, instruction, identification, emergency, and decision nodes and path complexity. The last category includes navigation around floors and instruction about where to place signs and their content.
To lessen the need for numerous signs and cope with the fact that customers may not understand library terminology, Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh hired a consulting firm to survey librarians and students for approximately one year and make recommendations about new signage. As a result, the walls are colorful and have huge letterforms that offer navigational cues to customers seeking library resources.