In an earlier post I discussed psychological barriers that can be imposed on library users. What about the plain old fashioned “physical barriers?” Those are the ones that we have to deal with every day and in a really obvious way. So why are they there? Best intentions. Truly, it is the best intentions (at least I want to believe it is) that causes libraries to stick up enter/exit bars and winding paths of stanchions to get to the check-out desk. We say we’re helping keep order, keeping our users from getting confused or losing their ways. Hmmm, how about just cluttering up their paths? You’ll see in this photo that the stationary barriers are still there (not much we can do about those without the use of heavy equipment…though we should–and I say WILL–must believe we WILL). But, you’ll see a lot of freed-up space in the lobby behind them. This is now USABLE space because the imposing (and not-so-pretty) mismatched stanchions were removed. And guess what? People know how to form a line (or lines) on their own. Why do we think we have to direct them to a station? Even on the busiest days since the stanchions were removed, people find their way. They fall–you got it–in line! Now to get rid of those hardcore enter/exit bars…the ones that smack you in the gut because you entered through the exit line (this happens more times than you can count–to users and staff). There are better ways! We’ll never implement them if we don’t challenge ourselves and TRUST our users–and ourselves–to be, well, smart–and human!