A blog from the Ontario Library Service

Signs, Signs, Everywhere…

In 1970, the Canadian rock group Five Man Electrical Band released the song “Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign”… I guarantee you’re singing it in your head right now!

Now this post is not about whether hippies with long hair should apply for work, but about the vast array of signs that I have noticed at various places in my community.

In the library world, even before the pandemic, I had noticed that some had signs everywhere whereas some just had a few.  My favourite was the library that took down ALL of their signs and then each sign had to EARN its way back into the library.  That library also took the opportunity to create a style guide and template and purchase standardized holders for every sign.

But the pandemic changed the world of signage.

From the beginning of the pandemic, businesses and organizations were required to post specific signs covering various topics.  The government website titled COVID-19 and workplace health and safety, has more than 30 poster choices covering situations from cleaning, equipment, retail transactions to workplace safety – and in at least five different languages.

March 1st, 2022 brought another round of changes.  The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health released a document called COVID-19 Signage Questions for Businesses and Organizations which provides this instruction:

“Under O. Reg. 364/20, the person responsible for a business or organization that is open must operate that business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health or another public health official on screening individuals. This applies whether or not the individuals are fully vaccinated.

“This requirement includes posting signs at all entrances to the premises of the business or organization in a conspicuous location visible to the public that inform individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises.”

So really, this is the one remaining sign that is required by pandemic-related legislation, by regulation, or at the instruction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

But what I have noticed is that rather than replacing signs with this one requirement, some businesses and organizations are just adding to the volume of signs.  Obsolete signs are still posted on the entrance doors, on washroom doors, on chairs, on computers, on shelf ends.  Some of these signs are very negative – for example, ‘don’t do that’ or ‘don’t touch that’; often leaving a less than welcoming or friendly feel.

The pandemic has not been easy.  Instructions on what to do and what not to do have come at you from every angle.  The changes set on March 1st provide a great opportunity to look at your signage – and make sure that you only have what is still needed.  It is time to welcome the public back to your library, without obsolete signs blocking their view and telling them what to do!