redesigning the library, one ugly form at a time

Welcome to the library” says the handout that was made in Word, written in Arial 10 point font with a random bit of bolded text. While the text claimed to welcome new library users, the design clearly said that we are outdated, institutional and that we do not care.

I work in an art and design university and I know my users are especially visual people. How we visually organize the physical space, our website and small things like our library forms really impacts how our users feel about our collections and services.

It was extremely satisfying to be a client for Celeste Martin‘s 3rd year Communication Design class. We ended up with the modern and cheerful forms that Sophie Lundstrom designed. She redesigned the information sheet about the library, the slide signout sheet, reserve request form and a few others we decided to stop using paper forms for.   She did an amazing job. It’s been delightful to see people notice the new forms, especially the Communication Design students. This is what the old guide looked like.

Community Borrowers

The timing for the redesign was perfect as we are now offering Continuing Studies students borrowing privileges. While there are about 1800 FTEs in credit programs, there are over 4000 students taking Continuing Studies courses. Each one of these students will get this information sheet about the library. This will make a much more positive impression of the kind of services and collections we offer.

One of the most satisfying parts of my job has been the liaison with the Design department. I like how the faculty and students are problem solvers and how they manage to bring beauty and elegance to their solutions. After working here for 2 years, it’s hard to see my library with fresh eyes. As a user, I notice and appreciate small details like how a local sewing shop patched cracks in the floor with clear epoxy and buttons   or when a website has a clever 404 error page.

The improvement in these forms will hopefully improve user experience in a small way, so that people truly feel welcome in the library.

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