5 Design Hacks to Please Your Patrons
I got so many great responses to last week's blog post (you can read Increase Patron Traffic on the Cheap HERE if you missed it) that I thought I'd expound upon it a bit by giving my readers a few more of my favorite Go-Tos when adding some life to a Library quickly and on a tight budget. I've even given you some great links so you can see where to find some of these things so you can try them out for yourselves. There are plenty of things you can do to liven up your space, but a few that I like to focus on are Artwork, Feature Walls, Furniture Groupings, Technology and Lighting. People are always looking for a great place to read that makes them feel comfortable, while also giving them access to fun places to plug in to their technology gadgets. The Library can be SUCH a great environment to meet the needs of their communities if they have the right elements to draw the public in and keep them coming back.
"ART IS ART, ISN'T IT?" - groucho marx
HACK NUMBER 1. Artwork is always a great way to personalize your Library. And the options are endless. But one really great way for you to benefit from artwork in your Library is to involve your patrons on a more personal level. Local artists are a frequently used method of displaying art. And this is such a great idea; especially when your community is known for its local artists. You can also take it a step further by reaching beyond image arts and branch out into musical arts by involving your local musicians if that's a common theme in your community. But I would like to suggest that you take this in a different direction and allow your patrons a chance to show some of THEIR artistic abilities. Think of how cool it would be to have a specific section in your Library where you showcase artwork by patrons that have entered a contest of sorts. You can feature the winners and this could be an ongoing thing that you hold monthly, bi-annually, or even annually if it's too hectic to feature more frequent change overs. But either way you decide to go, you would be encouraging your locals to really get involved and this would certainly increase patron activity.
Displaying these local works of art is another way to really create a show stopper. Find your feature wall (which I will delve into further as you read on). Decide on a great location where you have a wall large enough to house some great frames and plenty of pieces. Use multiple frame styles and colors to really create a collage effect that will draw people in. You can also go with a long corridor that needs a little life and add a nice monorail framing system for pieces to be on display. The one you see in the photo above was purchased by our art dealer, but you can get these systems on Amazon too.
FEATURE WALLS, FUTURE WALLS
HACK NUMBER 2. Libraries are covered from head to toe in visual data. Books, wayfinding signage, current programming, displays and then more books. A person can get lost in your Library to say the least! One great way to break up some of the confusion and also help create specialized areas of interest is to design a feature wall. As mentioned before, one way to do this is to create a nice display of artwork on one specific wall that will draw people in and give their eye something to rest on. But others can be so simple. My last blog post mentioned accent walls with paint and that's always a good idea. But you can also try reclaimed wood, tile, wallpaper and even plastic laminate to bring the attention to a desired location in your Library. Try your resource desk wall!
Another great place for this is in a Teen area or Children's area. Youth spaces are often the favorites of the building and are also one of your target patrons if you want to continue to capture young readers. So creating a feature wall that brings a lot of bright color and textures to these areas will help redirect traffic for your youth most definitely. Now's your chance to get creative with images and shapes. One fun way that you can find in my Top 10 List of Ways to Improve Your Library on Little to NO Budget (FREE DOWNLOAD HERE) is by using acoustical sound panels that you can arrange in a space to create fun backdrops. And of course you get the added bonus of sound dampening as well. These are super cheap on Amazon HERE. There are SOOO many great colors and design options you can use!
SIT, READ, STAY A WHILE
My HACK NUMBER 3 comes in the form of furniture groupings. In my last blog I talked about rearranging your furniture to get the most bang for your buck. But taking that a necessary step further, let's talk specific groupings. Even more specifically, reading groupings. One of the best things you can do to draw in patrons is to make the inside space functional and aesthetically pleasing but ALSO make it look pleasing from the outside. If you're soft seating looks snappy and fun, place some of it in your window areas to make the most of a bright and serene reading space while attracting outside attention. You want a space that looks inviting and says, "come read awhile!"
TECHNOLOGY IS EVERYTHING - WELL NOT EVERYTHING EVERYTHING
HACK NUMBER 4 is all about technology. While it isn't the absolute be all end all (because otherwise where would we be without actual books?!), it's pretty prevalent these days and isn't likely to disappear anytime soon. So one thing you can do to please your patrons is to max out technology access. Most people are either going to have their own devices or borrow yours. So creating designated areas for charging towers is a must. I personally love the ones on wheels so you can use them wherever the need arises. Here are three of my favorites:
"MAY IT BE A LIGHT TO YOU IN DARK PLACES . . ." - tolkien
HACK NUMBER 5. More light in better places! More often than not, you can't just jump in and change out all your light fixtures. In some places where you already have pendants, you can absolutely select a more current fixture and change it out. And if you can and it makes the space feel better, then I highly recommend it. But the kind of light I'm referring to is far simpler. Consider table lamps; even in areas where you already have good light and windows. If you have areas to add some table lamps, it will bring such a sweet simple change to your rooms. Plus you can always change out the shades quickly and inexpensively for the occasional update. Not only will they give a sense of warmth and depth, but they will also lend to more light in areas that require it. Use metal base lamps that match the rest of your hardware to prevent any breaking and to add a slight pop of style and reflection to the area. Then choose any shade that feels appropriate. Try some of these:
Oneach USB Table Lamp (even comes with a phone charger!)
Hampton Bay at Home Depot (great ambiance)
Spencer Lamp at Home Depot (one with great ambiance AND a charging port!)
These are just a few simple hacks that you can use to keep people interested and add a little something for the wonderful people that visit every day. And don't feel like you have to run out and buy one of each today. Pick two or three and try those out first. Play with some of these different ideas and see what works. If you try lamps and they become a nuisance, then try the power towers! If the power tower turns out to be a popular addition, then take it a step further and create some specific technology groupings that you can work around the tower as a sort of re-charge station. There are so many things you can do. Just try something!! And come back next week to learn more.