It’s the first week of the semester. As I noted on Twitter (and therefore FriendFeed) yesterday, one of the recurring side effects of that is that the emergency exit alarms go off all the time.
See, we have a structural problem: The lobby of Crumb Library was designed to have four entrances. Four sets of doors, two on each side of the lobby. In order to not need four sets of security gates, we have permanently closed off one set, replacing them with a glass wall, and a second set is an emergency exit. Two sets of doors remain, one on the east and one on the west side of the lobby. (We’re a popular cut-through across the Quad for just this reason, but it does provide steady traffic for the Minerva’s Cafe, which sits just off the lobby by the traffic pattern.)
It’s the emergency set that are the problem.
They are always a problem.
Those of us who have watched them be a problem are baffled by it.
I mean… really. Yes, there is a giant lit EXIT sign. I know. It’s required by law. It makes people think this is the way out of the building. Yes, it looks just like the doors that people normally come and go through, but, well, that’s because it is, and was designed that way.
There are also three foot-wide STOP signs on the doors, at eye level, in red, octagonal in shape… all of the traditional STOP indicators.
And yet people walk on through.
So we end up putting up temporary signs for the first part of the semester, in a vain attempt to steer students away until they learn.
People have suggested that we lock the doors. Can’t do that; Emergency Exit.
People have suggested we take down the EXIT sign. Can’t do that; Emergency Exit.
People have suggested we use velvet rope to block it off. Can’t do that; Emergency Exit.
People have suggested clearer signage. We’re at a loss as to what would be clearer than what we have.
Mostly, I think the problem lies in two things: One, most people don’t read ANY signs, even good ones. And Two, lots and lots of our users leave the library talking on their phone or chatting with friends. And they’re not paying attention to anything but what they themselves are doing in that moment.
Makes you fear for the ones talking and texting while they drive, doesn’t it?
So I guess this is all just to say that I want to make the best possible library experience for our users… but sometimes I think the users are just gonna have to pay attention to their world. There’s only so much I can do for them.
Of course, any brilliant ideas on how to solve this problem are totally welcome. I’m tired of listening to the alarm go off!
ETA: You can all stop suggesting we buy new gates and open the doors. That is not a practical option. Try again!