|Can't find your way? Let the Library show you!|
Since my arrival at the library a couple of years ago, I've always marveled at how many EXIT signs (and derivatives thereof) keep popping up to point visitors out through the appropriate front door exit. Every few months, I go back to our lobby in part simply for my amusement as well as to more specifically count those signs:
One...two...ten...eighteen...more...are you kidding me? For four doors?
I, probably like a couple others (I'm sure we're an endangered species), will actually camp out to watch the traffic flow, paying careful attention to what visitors look at as they enter and exit the building. I want to see where their eyes are going, what catches their attention first, second, last. The interaction between visitor and the environment varies, of course, but by and large most people have been successfully "trained" to pass through a "metal detector" looking structure that scans for RFID stickers in front of one of the doors. Other visitors, however, probably consider the device an obstruction of some kind and decide to avoid it in favour of two other doors that appear to be more accessible--until they read the sign(s) on them.
Our lobby has four sliding glass doorways, two of which are identified as fire exits only, one as an entrance as indicated on both sides, and one as an exit, also indicated on both sides. In addition to that, library staff have printed numerous 8.5x11 pages to mount on windows, walls, and pedestals with ropes attaching them together that act as a funnel to guide visitors through to the RFID tag detector and the only door specified for exiting. The mass result looks like the photo above, compiling an impressive 20 or so signs that say "EXIT."
Why so many? Is it that difficult for visitors to find the exit? The obvious answer must be "yes!" otherwise some of those signs wouldn't be there. But the resulting visual clutter is an unsightly environmental chaos that looks tacky too.
The challenge is how to fulfill city code requirements for emergency door access signage, yet reduce the overall number of signs it takes for the lowest common denominator of visitors to successfully navigate their way to the appropriate door. Just like "conduct code" signage, a balance needs to be struck between what is "reasonably sufficient," and what is "overkill."
Trust me, we have our crack team of experts working on it.