Friday Design: Timely Design

Hello, dear readers. I hope your week has been going well. We’ve had a bit of hot, hot weather so I’m hoping the next week give us a reprieve. But the design show must go on! Today I wanted to talk a bit about timely design and why it matters.

I was in my local Target the other day and saw this end-cap display:

photo showing timely, well-placed display that libraries can copy

I had to take a photo because this is what I’m talking about when I’m talking about timely design. It’s summer and who doesn’t want a tasty frozen treat during a heatwave? Everything you need is here, including gluten-free cones and an ice cream scoop! It’s perfect and was set up right by the frozen dessert aisle.

Timely, convenient, organized, well-marked. Great design, great promotion, and I bet it moved a lot of waffle cones, toppings, and ice cream, which was the entire point.

So what does this have to do with libraries and design?


How often do you and your colleagues thing about timely design? About placing collections, service points, and signage right where people need them? Where it is convenient rather than where we’ve always had it?

How can you incorporate timely design into your library?

You can start small. Why not place some guidebooks and summer reads by a fabulously designed poster promoting free museum passes via the library’s Discover & Go program? People can find out more around the museums they go to and get a book to read on the bus or train or in the museum’s garden when they need a break.

Libraries do great book displays for various events such as Banned Books Week, Blind Date with a Book, heritage months, and more. These are timely, but how can you make them more compelling and timely? Use your creativity and your graphic design skills to showcase other linked resources that people might not know about. Banned Books and promotion of legal help via the lawyer in the library program. Test Prep book collection right by the reference desk with a huge arrow pointing towards the friendly-looking librarians for more help.

We often think long-term in the library and that is as it should be for the work we do with preservation of access to knowledge, sustainability of our funding, and building of relationships. But we also need to think about what we can do that is more ephemeral, but no less important, to get timely information, services, and resources in front of our patrons in ways that are appealing, well-designed, and fun. The two ways of doing and thinking can happily coexist and support each other.

So remember the importance of timely design and synergies the next time you have to design a new display, decide where to hang promotional materials, or move a collection.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get an ice cream cone. Allons-y!