Free Printables

Reference Desk Signage For a New Semester

So, the beginning of the Fall Semester is exactly opposite of skipping through a field of daisies.  And because sneaking sips of an adult beverage at the bottom of the file cabinet isn't always an option, I like to turn to another outlet: doing a creative and fun task even when you should be doing a million and one more important things. In our Ref Desk Redeux, I gave you a how-to and some best practice guidelines for creating signage (in short, don't make ugly shit). So here is my cathartic creation for the reference desk. Feel free to download and use at your library's reference desk!

Tools Used: Evernote & Penultimate for iPad (where I originally brainstormed the content for 5 or 6 sign ideas), Piktochart, Adobe Kuler, and advice from my gals Melinda & Dani.

Reference Desk Sign

Ref Desk Redeux: Go Ahead

GoAheadAskME So here's the deal. A little under two years ago, our library embraced a trending equation: circulation desk + reference desk = one service desk. The desk itself has two levels; there is a high, walk-up side for circulation and a low, please-have-a-seat side for reference. On the wall above and behind the desk, the words "service desk" are neatly mounted, their sans serif font and silver, matted sheen appearing in a large and effective manner.

This signage is classy, sure, but Dani and I recently found ourselves desiring something a bit more... fun! Something to make the desk less intimidating and more approachable. We've come up with lots of signage design ideas, and we'll be sharing them with you here through Ref Desk Redeux.

But wait--it gets even better! We'll also give you free printables that you can download, along with tips and tricks for creating your own rad signs. I know, I know... you're welcome.

And now, the how to:

What you'll need: This super fancy desk sign holder, Mircosoft Publisher, and a color printer

Step 1 : Think of a simple, clever statement to draw in your patrons. Try to be at least 50% funny.

Step 2: Open publisher and start experimenting! I highly recommend the following:

  • Choose brightly colored backgrounds (you can change the background color by clicking the Page Design ribbon, then selecting the drop down arrow under the "Background' icon).
  • Use more than one font, but no more than three.
  • Do not, ever, under any circumstance (including the temptation to be ironic) use Comic Sans. Instead, try a combination of typefaces to add variety or emphasis. In this example, I used Segoe Print and Segoe UI Symbol, which are both fonts that came loaded with Publisher 2013. For more help choosing non-cheesy fonts, take a look at our Typography Downloads Pinterest board and check back soon for our tutorial on finding, installing, and using free fonts from the web.
  • Make sure the thing is readable. White lettering looks great on colored backgrounds, just make sure the background color isn't too light. You might also have to change the colors after testing the printed color, which will vary a bit from what you see on the screen.
  • Don't give in to the habit of aligning all the text to the center, nor to the middle of the paper. While this option may work great for certain signs, why not play around with different asymmetrical options?

Step 3: Is it pretty? Is it catchy? Is is fun? Not sure? Ask for patrons' opinion. Once you get a few green lights, print 'em! If you use a sign desk holder similar to the one mentioned above, you can print out two versions in two separate colors, then spin the sign holder around every few days to keep people on their toes (okay, this part isn't necessary, but I'm pretending that there's scientific evidence to support my hunch that changing signs often will keep patrons' attention and prevent signage from "blending in" to what their eyes are accustomed to).

So tell me, what kind of signage do you have for your reference desk? How often do you change it? Do you have any signage design ideas to share?