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THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX beads text typography

This article is from our guest blog contributor, Graeme Williams, Online Catalog Analyst.

Gamers use POV to mean “point of view”, but they’re not using it metaphorically — they mean seeing a game through particular eyes. 

This is a post about architecture, and signage, and accessibility, but really it’s just about seeing the library (the building, not the abstraction) from a patron’s point of view.

Imagine you’re a patron who is upset because you need to renew a book to complete a course to get a certification to keep your job — but you’ve lost your library card.  And this is a branch you’ve never visited before.  Start on the sidewalk at the back of the parking lot.

From your position on the sidewalk, can you tell that you’re outside a library?  Can you tell where the entrance is?  Library buildings shouldn’t be coy.

Start walking …

Can you make it to the entrance on sidewalks and crosswalks, or do you have to dodge the traffic in the parking lot?  Could you do it using a walker or a wheelchair?

When you go through the library doors, stop.  Is the signage right there clear enough for someone with limited vision?  Where will you go for help with your book renewal and lost card problems?  Not to service desks labelled “Discover” or “Explore”!  In fact, if those words or anything like them appear anywhere at all, you’re now a little more confused and a little more upset.  Do you go to the same desk to renew your book and replace your card?  Do you need to do one before the other?  How would you know?

You wander up to a service desk, a little lost.  Does the person at the desk know the library policy for renewing material without a card?  For replacing a card without identification?  Do they have the authority to override policy?  Will they use that authority in the same way for you — smelling of motor oil and still in your overalls from the gas station where you work — as they would for a nice lady with two kids in tow?

Now go back to the start and repeat the process. What if it’s your first time picking up a hold?  What if you’re looking for something shelved separately like biographies or science fiction paperbacks?

You can connect with Graeme Williams on Twitter, @lagbolt

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