Ode to the Plastic Sign Holder

by Beau Steenken
new policy sign in plastic sign holder

Plastic sign holders are a great low-cost method for informing patrons of new policies, and sometimes our director even lets us splurge on color printing!

Law libraries spend a lot of money. Beyond the six figures (or more) that a library spends on maintaining its print collection and electronic subscriptions, money must be spent on shelving (and, in some instances, compact-shelving service agreements), furniture, lighting, librarian and staff salaries (not that I’m complaining), and other things that are not part of the collection themselves but enable library patrons to use the collection. In essence, then, law libraries sort of pay for the collection twice, once for the materials and once to render the materials usable. As such, I would like to highlight the one expenditure that I have found to be the most cost-efficient tool for increasing the usability of the library: the 8 1/2 x 11 inch plastic sign holder.

Readily available for under $10 at your nearest office supply store, plastic sign holders come in both portrait and landscape orientations, and once purchased offer unlimited flexibility in directing your patrons to the appropriate source or informing them of policy. For instance, at my law library we have three public-access computers. At various times, we have revised the code of conduct for their use. When we first instituted our initial policy, we invested $8 in the plastic sign holder and about $0.12 in a printout of the policy. Every time we have updated the policy, new signs have cost us $0.12, yet still look just as professional as the original. I challenge you to find something else your library spends money on with the same return on investment!

an event announcement in a plastic sign-holde

Sign holders excel at announcing the latest instances of recurring events.

Plastic sign holders are also a great way to communicate to native populations such as law students. Despite the fact that we post new information to our webpage, our Facebook page, our blog, and the student mailing lists, we notice that our students tend to take more notice of the information if it is physically (as opposed to digitally) in front of their noses. For this reason, we keep a couple of sign-holders ready for announcements, recruitment flyers, and the like.

Clearly sign-holders are great  when you have information to communicate, but what about when you have nothing new to say? Will they junk up the place with cheap plastic? No! You can always use them for inspirational messages, such as…

An inspirational sign saying "Do your best" in a sign-holder next to the circulation desk

Law students seem to find this sign comforting.


a sign reminding students of the end of the semester

Law students do not like this one as much, but it helps them focus.


a sign reading "Tick. Tock."

Ok, we got active complaints from law students about this one.

This last series of signs highlights my favorite aspect of plastic sign holders. Because of the extremely low-cost and impermanent nature of signs in plastic holders, you can use humor and creativity in your signage. While tongue-in-cheek messages would not be dignified enough for more permanent signage, plastic sign holders offer the freedom to occasionally lighten up the bleak monotony of the law school experience.

So here’s to the 8 1/2 x 11 inch plastic sign holder, the library expenditure that punches far beyond its weight!

This entry was posted in Customer Service, Humor, Inspiration and Design Ideas, Library Displays, Library Displays, Inspiration and Design Ideas and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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