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Making Things Look Right

September 17, 2006

Huh???!!!!!!!, originally uploaded by truckdriver_968.

I have been wanting to jump on the library signage bandwagon for some time now. While browsing flickr this morning the most obvious lead photo presented itself!

Not long ago, during conversations about consistency in signage with a couple of other Kentucky librarians, I offered my comments.

I offer them to you here now. If you are interested, if you are ready to take action, please read on.

In my latest annual performance evaluation, our director noted my passion for “making things look right.” I appreciate that as a positive comment but I know too that it can be perceived that I am too particular and don’t appreciate efforts others make in production of library promotional materials. So I feel I walk a fine line. I am the Youth Services Manager, not a Marketing Director. It is tough sometimes.

Basically, I believe that all promotional materials should have the same look. That includes signage, brochures, newsletter, advertising, and the web site. My request has been that we use the same logo, the same font, the same tagline, on all PR pieces.

We contract with a freelance copy writer. She receives content from the director, who receives it from other departments, and me, primarily contributing for Youth Services, concerning all upcoming activities and collection developments. Our freelancer then returns copy to us for press releases and a primary layout for the newsletter. Various staff then edit to produce various versions which are appropriate as signs, posters, brochures, fliers, press releases, newsletter and the website. Most of our printing is done in house. If large quantities are needed we may have them done by outside vendors.

I know our primary concern has been the rambling signage but I want it to go even further than that.

  • All print pieces should have the logo.
  • All program announcements should include the same contact info and that all programs are free and open to the public.
  • Most photos should be taken in anticipation of vertical placement rather than horizontal in order to consider column width.
  • You should not see ceiling and floors in those photos.
    You should see happy faces enjoying improved, innovative services and not a wide shot of a newly remodeled check-in desk.
  • We use verdana font on the website. If all print pieces are created in verdana then I can easily copy and paste same copy from press release to flier to PSAs to web page and know how it will fit.
  • Use text boxes instead of tabs and spaces for placement.
  • Don’t cover the doors with program announcements.  At least place the one you may use against the corner of the frame so that is assuredly straight.
  • The OPAC menu announcements should be consistent.

And my greatest pet peeve – use the correct name, McCracken County Public Library and not McCracken Library or McCracken Public Library. We had a secretary one time that always answered the phone “Paducah Library” and it drove me crazy!

I could rant on and on but you get my point. I truly spend as much if not more of my time working on overall library promotion as I do in Youth Services. Thankfully, there are great Youth Services staff who pick up my slack when I wander off to “play marketing.” But some of us have to ensure that our libraries don’t look a mess.

Whew… that’s enough ranting for now. I really really think it just takes some instruction, some on the job training, some interest and concern and maybe there is even a conference presentation brewing here. Signage, branding, marketing. Now, just what can we take off the “stop doing list” to fit this in?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2006 10:57 pm

    That’s a good rant, errrr, post, and close to the hearts of a couple of us from my library – we talk about our “style chip” (or it being “offline” in some cases) 🙂 I like the list you present – it is something we could probably develop locally. We’ve conquered the sticky tape jungle, and the rambling signs and flyers etc … but it is something you definitely have to keep your eye one, isn’t it! I’m going to foward this post to my colleague – she’ll love it 🙂

  2. ingrid permalink
    September 17, 2006 11:10 pm

    I am said colleague metnioned above – and I DO love this!!! what a battle to keep a consistent look and high quality look to our libraries – but defintiely worth the effort I reckon….

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