Academic libraries tap into the expertise of their users in all kinds of ways. At Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)’s James E. Walker Library, when graphic design major John Edmondson applied for a summer job they signed him right up—literally. According to The Daily News Journal, after an interview with new Dean Bonnie Allen, Edmondson was chosen to create new directional signs for the library.
“I patterned them after those old highway direction signs like the ones that said ‘Nashville, 50 miles to the right,’” said Edmondson.
There are 5 different signs, library spokesperson Kristen Keene told LJ. A general “Library Landmarks” sign in the atrium is supplemented by signs for specific destinations on each of the building’s four floors.
The signs are made of PVC, which is stronger than plastic and inexpensive, and installed on August 24 in time for the fall semester. A key to the color-coding is located in the library’s first-floor atrium.
According to a student publication, library officials say they hope the signs will enable students, especially freshmen and transfer students, to use their studying and research time more efficiently and reduce unnecessary trips to the information desk.
The semester has just started, but so far, all signs point to MTSU having a hit on its hands. “People seem to love them,” Keene told LJ. “Not only are they very cool and great looking signs, they really have been helpful in pointing people to the Library’s Landmarks. They also really like when they find out that one of our MTSU graphic design students designed them and a local small business printed them!”
In addition to the signage, Keene told LJ that Edmondson worked on other design projects for the library including its expanded hours campaign, publications, and website graphics. And more may be in the works: Edmondson will continue working at the library until he graduates at the end of the spring semester.
For libraries that don’t have access to an in-house graphic designer but still want innovative ideas on how to direct their patrons, additional inspiration can be found at the Library Signage group on Flickr, or Smashing Magazine’s gallery of well-designed library signage.