28 September 2011

Do Not Touch...in the Library

Okay, here's the skinny. I get a work request asking to create a sign to place on our large, 45x36 inch plasma television monitor in the library lobby. The sign is to say: "DO NOT TOUCH SCREEN." It went on to specify: "The sign should be approximately 2" tall x 11.5" wide, however you may want to measure the space to see what looks best." I'm thinking to myself: "Yep, here we go...the beginning of plastering "DO THIS / DON'T DO THAT" signs all over the library. 

Now, I understand that certain undesirable incidents can take place any time, any place, and that placing a label of warning or instruction provides the person whose job it is to "protect the merchandise"--as they say--something to point at in order to say "see? you were warned not to do it...right HERE." 

The only problem with that is that no matter how big you make your sign and no matter how many locations you place such instructions on, somebody, somewhere, will inevitably touch whatever it is you're trying to tell them not to, whether intentional or not. So when I see a sign that says "DO THIS / DON'T DO THAT" I immediately think of what a waste of time the effort is. Legal liability aside for truly serious things, some signs are ineffective and just downright petty.

Excessive labeling is esthetically abusive and gives signage
a bad name. 
To illustrate this point, I don't have to go far to argue my case. All I have to do is spin my chair around in my office. Directly behind me, is a Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 800 large format printer. At  65x42x32 inches in size, it's a pretty big hunk of office equipment. And I'd have to say, not exactly showroom beautiful too. But what makes it truly unsightly is the fact that someone who really wanted people to know that it (at one time) belonged to the Youth Services department of the library, decided to impart that message with silver marker on the black plastic housing. Not once on only one surface, but ten times. TEN! I mean, what is the freaking need for that? Essentially, they just graffitied all over some office equipment in permanent marker. And for what? Who's gonna wheel that lumbering piece of equipment out of the office and down the street? And who's gonna chase after them, shouting "Hey, you! Whattya doing there? That belongs to Youth Services!" I mean, r-e-a-l-l-y. One mention alone would have been plenty. Maybe even more than plenty. If you don't believe me, go ahead. Touch it. What does it matter? If it topples over on you and you want to complain about it, no sign is going to make a difference. It wasn't yours. You shouldn't have been touching it...and because you did, look what happened? It's nobody's fault but your own. 

Get rid of those unsightly, excessive "DO / DON'T DO"
graffiti marks with GOO GONE.
Now then, for the solution. First for the existing graffiti. One of the guys in facilities hooked me up with GOO GONE, a solution that helps to remove grease, stickers, tar, gum, crayon, and tape residue. It's not quite strong enough to remove the magic marker in one application, but it does remove it slowly in layers after a soak. But since it evaporates quickly, there's also not much soaking time, and thus a lot of repeat applications. Nevertheless, in time it will eventually remove the offending mark...and hopefully not damage the plastic surface. I only wish the GOO GONE could have been used on the offending parties before they markered-up a piece of equipment that was plenty fine just the way it was before they defaced it.

The "DO NOT TOUCH" label affixed to the tv monitor.
Now then...for the tv monitor solution. I went up to look at the tv monitor. It had a black casing with a small area on the lower left side of the frame that had some tiny buttons on it. It also had small silver SONY brand name lettering centered in the middle of that lower portion of the frame. I decided to not make a sign as big as 11.5 inches wide shouting "DO NOT TOUCH SCREEN." Instead, I made a little label about 4 inches long by .75 inches vertical with 15% black lettering to immulate the silver brand label: "DO NOT TOUCH." It should be enough. I mean, really.

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