All libraries have rules and policies; it’s how we maintain a sort of organized chaos at our dynamic, community-serving organizations. However, expressing those rules to library users can present a bit of a public relations challenge: We want to be friendly, yet firm; accommodating, but not so laissez-faire that we no longer have a purpose and mission. We often communicate our library’s policies through some sort of sign or poster, but are we thinking about the tone we are setting with the design of those posters? Our message might be saying one thing, but the way it’s visually displayed and organized may be communicating a very different meaning.

The University of Surrey’s Library & Learning Centre has managed to create library policy posters that are playful, fun, and seem to reflect the spirit of a welcoming library that still needs to maintain order. Customer Services Advisor at the University of Surrey Library, Greg Tank, designed all posters in Microsoft Word, proving that sometimes bold, impactful text and a beautiful layout can be all you need for an effective design. Carley Deanus, Team Leader for Customer Services at the University of Surrey Library describes the intent and purpose of each poster:

Free Pizza

At the University of Surrey, we do not allow hot food in the Library. However, getting this message across in an innovative way to students was something we needed to do effectively. We hope you’ll agree that our ‘Keep the Library free of Pizza’ sign helps get the message across in a slightly more informal and fun way, but the message itself remains clear!

Reserve books not seats poster

Reserve Books Not Seats

The University of Surrey Library is open 24/7 during semester, and we found that during our busiest times, we were constantly being faced with the issue of students reserving desks (either for themselves, or for their friends), and not using them for hours on end. Other students started to pick up on this, and it wasn’t long before we were inundated with complaints and pleas for us to do something about it. This poster was one of the ways in which we started to tackle the problem. It was important that our message was clear, but we wanted to get the information across in a way that didn’t feel like we were just telling students what to do. Our strapline – ‘reserve books, not seats’ helped us to not only place emphasis on the Library first and foremost, but it also helped tie in with our other efforts of removing unattended belongings after 40 minutes and promoting healthy studying with our ‘take a break’ leaflets.

Many thanks to Greg Tank (Customer Services Advisor, University of Surrey Library) for his design work.

You can find the PDF and editable Microsoft Word versions of both posters on the Librarian Design Share Google Drive Poster Folder.