Friday Design: No Project Too Small & Inspiration

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your July is going well, you are avoiding the worst of the heat (if you are some place where it is hot) and you are using the long days of summer to plan and rejuvenate. I have a few thoughts today on small projects and some links for inspiration, so let’s get into it.

This summer is quite short at my university because we are switching from quarters to semesters. Because of that, I have less time than usual for projects and design work. But that doesn’t mean I’m not creating and using the quiet time I have to plan out improvements in our visual communications. One thing that has come home to me this summer is that no project is too small and every project deserves thoughtful design.

I strive to treat each project as an important piece of communication and deserving of great design. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a button, a flyer, or a tally sheet. Everything needs to be well-designed so it is functional, engaging, and puts the library forward in the best possible light. Two things in particular have caught my attention this summer: buttons and tally sheets.

First, we are trying to do more with buttons and need to work on our designs there. I’m considering the best ways to work through committee on these, since they will have to go through committee. It is hard to balance differing levels of design understanding and differing opinions (as I’m sure you know). So fingers crossed it turns out well because we should always be presenting a professional face through our designs.

Second, I’m involved with orientation for our frosh and transfers this summer, mainly handing out brochures (thankfully beautifully designed by our web designer), along with answering questions while our new students wait for their student ID cards. (side note: it is great to have a captive audience) While they wait, I’m also asking them to let me know what their favorite genres to read are by adding tick marks to columns on a piece of paper. Nothing fancy, but it will help as I develop our popular reading collection.

You wouldn’t think design would make a lot of difference in this case–as long as it’s clear and there is enough room in the columns for all the marks, it should be fine. Right? Not exactly. While many students read each column’s heading (the genre) carefully before marking what they liked, some simply marked the first column without reading anything–even though there was no pressure to mark anything and everyone got offered candy whether or not they wanted to participate.

The result? An overabundance of tick marks in the first column. This isn’t helpful at all. So in the next orientation, I’m going to mix up the order of the columns and see what happens. On the plus side, it’s accidental design research and a reminder that no structural design decision, no matter how small, is inconsequential.

Now, let’s move onto some fun and inspiration for your weekend! 🙂

If you haven’t refreshed your desktop wallpapers for the month, check out the lovely, summery designs over at Smashing Magazine. And do yourself a favorite and make these delightful strawberry pie bars from Joy the Baker while there are still delicious, fresh strawberries at the store. And, if you are working on infographics for your library, check out this list of some of the most creative from last year to inspire your next project.

I hope you have a great weekend and create something wonderful. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Thoughts: Incorporating Creativity

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that you have a wonderful weekend planned and, if you are in the academic world, that your semester/quarter/term is over (or nearly over). It’s been a bit quiet around this blog lately, but I’m hoping and planning to write more over the summer. This last term has been a bit of a time (I still can’t believe it’s the beginning of June already) and while I’ve done some graphic design work and thought often about what I want to share in this space, reports, meetings (upon meetings upon meetings), and other fires came up that pushed this small space to the edge. So today, I wanted to reflect a bit about something that’s been on my mind for awhile as we wrap up this school year–incorporating creativity into my work.

It’s probably not a surprise (far from it, in fact) that I believe creativity is so important to work and life and librarianship. What got me down this particular musing about how I’ve incorporated and define more and more of my work as creative was a meeting a few weeks ago. Also, probably not a surprise for readers, I’m not a fan of meetings especially those without agendas or action items. In this meeting, one person tried to divide the group into the creatives and non-creatives. And this, dear readers, rankled me greatly and (again, no surprise), I said so.

I believe truly, completely, and without reservation that everyone is creative and a creative. To label some people as not creative is not just untrue but detrimental not only to the person but to the community as a whole. How many of us can remember a time when someone said we weren’t creative enough? A good enough artist? Musician? Thinker? Writer? Probably most of us and those comments, often said in such an offhand manner that the speaker doesn’t even remember, can stifle our creativity for years if not lifetimes.

And that’s just wrong.

And it’s not just me who says it’s wrong. And if you need some words from those more eloquent than I (and with research to back it up), I suggest you read the work of Brene Brown and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Their works are inspiring and help when you’re feeling down or when someone implies (or outright says) you’re not creative.

We need creativity in our work and in our libraries, desperately and always. So what does this have to do with my work? For that, I have to tell you a story.

My first written piece as a professional librarian (in a now-defunct online space) was about the importance of play in academic librarianship, about not taking ourselves too seriously and seeing where we could be creative in what we do. And I got a comment on it that said such frivolity was not welcome in academia in the library and basically that I should get serious.

I’m serious about a lot of things, dear readers, and my work is one of them. But there is no need to sacrifice creativity or playfulness or (heaven help us) fun, in order to be serious about our work. On the contrary, being creative and having fun allows us to do better work and be as creative as we need to be.

Which brings us back to why I’m thinking about how much more I’ve incorporated creativity intentionally into my work in the last decade (yes, in July I’ll have been doing this librarian thing for a decade) and why I won’t let others label people as not creative.

I surround myself with visual inspiration in my office–postcards from trips, quotes from books and people I admire, photographs and buttons, origami from friends, and a dozen other little mementos that make me smile. And lots of these things show up in my work, in color schemes, and typography, and emotions for my designs, but also in what I want to bring to my teaching, to my writing, to my outreach, and to the dozens of other projects we do in the library that we may not think of as creative works, but truly are.

Incorporating creativity and being willing to try new things, ideas, ways of conceptualizing, are what have kept me engaged and serious about my work as a librarian. What have kept me from the cynicism and keep me coming back, even when some days it feels like I’m not making a difference, not having my expertise heard, not doing anything.

Creativity is what you make of it. It’s what you define it to be. Whether it’s creating a new flyer, engaging someone with a report they’ll actually read, or finding a way to reach a student where and when they need it. And it’s important, it’s vital, no matter what anyone else says.

You are creative. I am creative. We are creative.

And the library, the world, our community needs what we have to make and to offer.

Here’s to many more days and ways of incorporating that which inspires us, guides us, and moves us into our work and our lives.

I wish you, always, a wonderful, joyful, and relaxing weekend, dear readers. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon (with luck and determination) with some more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design Fun: Chosen Collaborations

Happy Friday, dear readers! I apologize for the relative blog silence over the last few weeks. I hope you’ve had a good spring, thus far, and today I want to talk a bit about collaboration and design, how important it is and how wonderful it can be (if done well) or horrible (if done poorly). So let’s talk about collaboration.

I don’t know about you, but I hated group work when I was in school. No matter how good my teachers’ intentions, there was so little individual accountability in the groups that I often (okay, more like 95% of the time) ended up doing most of the work. Others knew I would do the work because I cared about my grade and took advantage of it and even when tasks were assigned, people often didn’t follow through. It left a bad taste in my mouth that has, unfortunately, been reinforced by more than a few committees I’ve been on since becoming a librarian. So you wouldn’t be surprised that sometimes I have issues with so much emphasis being placed on collaboration and group work, without equal discussion about accountability and equity within the group.

All that aside, I love collaboration when I have agency over who I’m collaborating with and for what tasks. I especially find it useful in graphic design work to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to critically go over designs to improve them before they are ready for final printing or launching online. While I’m not a fan of design by committee, I’m a fan of collaboration in design work. The same principles for making design collaborations work are the same for making any collaboration work, in my experience:

  1. Clear communication is key, as is individual accountability. Work out responsibilities and deadlines in the first meeting and check in often.
  2. Brainstorm together, then individually work on designs to bring back and compare and critique. Best thinking work still gets done individually and everyone needs time to have ideas percolate and come together.
  3. Be open and kind with critiques and work together on the edits. Also, give credit to the editors in any process. Too often only the designer gets credit and the editor gets ignored. Editing is hard, important work, too.
  4. Always praise and thank your collaborators publicly when your work together is complete. Everyone likes to be appreciated and it will help the next time you need collaborators.

At my work, I love collaborating with our fabulous web designer, Brooke, who is also a great graphic designer. We’re both deadline oriented (and hit our deadlines) and we’ve worked out good communication so we can get a lot done in a reasonable amount of time. Collaborating also gives us a chance to learn from each other and I think strengthen our own individual design work.

So, even if you’ve been burned in the past by group and committee work, give collaboration in your design work a chance. If you can pick your collaborators and maintain clear communication, you never know what amazing things you can accomplish together (and make your library’s visual communications more beautiful and useful in the process!).

And, if you haven’t changed up your desktop wallpaper yet, check out the lovely ones over at Smashing Magazine.

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of relaxation and rejuvenation. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design: March News and Notes

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good week and are looking forward to a lovely weekend. It’s been quiet around here as I’ve had a couple of particularly busy and fatiguing weeks, but I wanted to post some updates and design news so you know I’ve not forgotten about this site (and hopefully you haven’t either).

First, if you are in the East Bay today and have a free hour from 2:30 to 3:30 pm, stop on by the Cal State East Bay Library on our Hayward Campus and you can hear me talk about libraries and graphic design (and answer questions, of course). It should be fun and it would be great to not talk to myself in an empty room!

Second, if you need some inspiration for your designs, or just want to learn something fun, I recommend checking out Daily Infographic.  Even if you’re not creating infographics for your library, it’s a great site to get ideas about layout, writing clean, precise copy, and just learning some new information (and who doesn’t like that?). It’s good to branch out to find new sources of inspiration for our work, whether we are in the middle of designing a brochure or just in the brainstorming stages. I’m looking forward to sharing our new library exhibit with you next week (our web designer has outdone herself with the banners!).

Third, and final, if you haven’t seen The Temple of Knowledge video from StoryCorps, I highly recommend giving it a view. It’s a lovely reminder about the greatness of libraries.

I hope you have a lovely, relaxing, restorative weekend. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design Fun: Icons, Book Talk News, and Inspiration

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you have had a good week and have a fun weekend planned. Today, I have a few resources for icons and inspiration that I want to share, along with news about a book/graphic design talk I’ll be giving in March.

First, who doesn’t like a free, beautifully designed icon set? Better yet, who doesn’t like two? Check out this friendly office icon set over at Smashing Magazine. It looks like a great resource for using for various library handouts and guides. Also, if you use Adobe XD, you can get a free icon set to use there, by following this link and guide provided by Smashing Magazine.

Also speaking of graphic design (of course), I’ll be giving a book talk/graphic design in libraries talk at Cal State East Bay on March 16th at 2:00 pm in the Biella Room of the Library. This is a free talk, so please come is you are able and interested. I’ll be talking a bit about graphic design basics and how they apply to the designs we create in libraries. It should be fun, so I hope to see you there.

Finally, some inspiration, check out this cool water and ink drop calligraphy. It is soothing, inspiring, and pretty darn awesome.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of fun and relaxation. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design: ALA Midwinter Book Talk Wrap-Up

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I’m back from Denver and finally warming up (so cold there for this Bay Area weather wimp). ALA Midwinter was great–I enjoyed the book buzzes, presentations, and exhibits. And, it was fantastic to meet my acquisitions editor and two people from the marketing team in person. Plus, I got to give a book talk! It was so fun. Thanks to everyone who came to chat with me. Today, I wanted to give a quick wrap-up on my book talk and share a design handout.

If you didn’t make it to ALA Midwinter, and even if you did (but didn’t make it to my talk), you can view it on the ALA Editions & ALA Neal-Schuman Facebook page here.  It was great chatting a bit about graphic design solutions to issues faced by people who attended. We talked about structure, visual movement, and how to make designs look professional. It was a blast.

I passed out a handout, which you can see in the video, and wanted to share it on my blog, too. I wrote about the design process that went into it before and now you can download the completed brochure (PDF available via this link). It gives some basic tips, inspiration, further reading, and design ideas. Plus, hopefully it will entice you to check out my book! 🙂

image of first page of brochure from ALA Midwinter, links to PDF of handout if clicked

Thanks to everyone at ALA Editions for making my book talk such a success! The ALA Store was beautifully laid out for both browsing and for the book talks. Can’t wait to see what book talks happen at upcoming conferences.

That’s it for now. I’m working on catching up with all my work and will be back soon with more news and notes on design in libraries. I wish you a wonderful, relaxing, and rejuvenating weekend. Allons-y!

 

Friday Design: Blind Date with a Book

Happy Friday and Happy February, dear readers! I hope the month is treating you well so far. It is amazing that we are already into the second month of 2018. So let’s have some fun today with blind date with a book!

February brings Valentine’s Day and lots of interesting and fun book display and event tie-ins at libraries. I really love the programming that public librarians produce and love that academic libraries are picking up on some of their fun. My local public library ran a blind date with a book event last year and I really wanted to do one this year as I was recently given collection development duties for our popular reading collection.

If you haven’t heard about blind date with a book before, check out this great post of tips and tricks from the Ontarian Librarian.

Happily, our Access Services Manager was completely cool with the event after we decided to write barcodes on the back of the wrapped books to make check-out easy and Technical Services was kind enough to change some temporary location codes so we could keep track of the titles pulled for the event. Another librarian colleague helped write up some blurbs and then the fun began!

It looked like arts and crafts time at a kindergarten class in my office this week with all the wrapping and lots of writing blurbs. It is a great excuse to practice different lettering styles. Since I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the decoration of the books, I stuck with simply writing our blurbs on the books, but changed up the writing style. We’re also hoping to get students to give us some feedback after they read their book.

And, one of the best parts, for space cramped libraries is that the entire display fits on one book cart (if you’re willing to refill as needed). I’m pretty happy with how it looks and hope our students get a kick out of going on a blind date with a book. I’ll let you know how it went after the event is over.

photograph of book cart with books wrapped for blind date with a book

So just remember, while designing for your library can be serious business, you should have some fun, too.

Also, since it is the beginning of the month, it means time to change up your desktop wallpaper. Check out this month’s fun designs from Smashing Magazine.

Finally, not to be a broken record, but I’m speaking at ALA Midwinter in the ALA Store. It’s the first time ALA is having author’s give book talks in the store. Come see me and stay for the other talks, too. List of all the talks is here with links to the conference scheduler, too.

I’m talking at 11:30 am on Saturday, so stop by to see me talk about graphic design without using a projector! It will be fun, interactive, and you’ll get a nifty handout I designed. Plus, you can buy my book at the ALA store and I can sign it (you know, if you’re into that. If not, that’s cool, too.).

I hope you’ll stop by as I’m super-excited to share some time with you and talk graphic design in libraries.

So that’s it for today. I hope you have a lovely, relaxing, and rejuvenating weekend. I’ll be back soon with thoughts and notes. Allons-y!

 

Friday Design: Handout for Book Talk at ALA Midwinter

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe it is almost the end of January? Where has the time flown? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’d like a pause button. There’s so many things to do and projects to start that taking a breather (even in January) sounds quite nice. But luckily, there are always fun design projects that might make the hours fly by, but at least in a good way.

Today, I want to share a bit of my design process for creating the handout I’m using for my book talk at ALA Midwinter.

[Shameless plug: If you are going to Midwinter, stop by the ALA Store at 11:30 am on Saturday, Feb. 10, to join my book talk about graphic design for librarians and get your book signed (if you want). Details on the Event Scheduler here. ]

So I talk a lot about planning and process when it comes to graphic design, as do many others. But I find that while we share finished projects, we rarely share the process and planning bits. Today I wanted to share a couple of pages from my planning process for my handout.

First, a bit of context. I’m super-excited that the team at ALA Editions is having me do a short book talk and signing at ALA Midwinter. I love talking about graphic design with my fellow librarians. Plus, who doesn’t like an excuse to design something new? The challenge? I am going to be doing a graphic design talk without a projector! That means I have to get creative in order to show examples of visual communication. Luckily I get to have a handout printed for my talk.

I am a messy planner when I’m working on graphic design projects. I’m sometimes envious of artists who have beautiful sketchbooks and journals that look perfect, even in their rough drafts. I’m not like that. I use scratch paper and a pencil (or whatever else is lying around) and start brainstorming whatever comes to mind first.

Below is the first page I began writing and sketching out what I wanted my talk to be about and ideas for my handout:

photograph of rough draft of handout with examples, tips, and parts of design outlined

You’ll notice it isn’t really pretty and it is very rough. I’m using this page to just get ideas on the page, in no particular order, so I don’t forget anything I want to cover. You’ll notice I have a lot of arrows and some bits are beginning to look like a flowchart. This helps me decide hierarchy, grouping, and order for a handout and presentation. Parts of the writing look better than others because I was pondering how to phrase certain ideas (and I was also using my planning time to sneak in calligraphy practice. It’s all about multitasking.).

But this is super-rough and far from what I’d put in a handout. But I’m getting into what I want to do and by grouping ideas, in my head I’m already thinking about layout and how many columns, rows, etc. I might need to make the handout flow and make sense.

This second photo is of the second page of my drafting, where I was gathering ideas for the presentation, along with more formed ideas for headings/organization of my handout.

draft showing presentation ideas for audience interaction, drawings, headings for handout, and graphic design quotes as well as notes about what to bring.

I write a lot of notes to myself. Here, I’ve written reminders about what to bring with me to the presentation as well as inspirational quotes that may or may not make it into the final handout. The middle section is where I was working on descriptive headings for my handout, again following groupings that I worked out on the first page. And you can see there are also ideas about audience interactions and drawings I could easily do as examples.

What’s this all mean for you when you are working on your next design project?

  • First, don’t worry about about having messy rough drafts when you are sketching out your ideas. They are called rough drafts for a reason.
  • Second, take time to let your ideas germinate in your head and play around with what inspires you and what might inspire your audience.
  • Third, be bold and go out on a limb with what you design. If you aren’t having some fun, you’re not doing it right.
  • Fourth, there is always time to sneak in calligraphy practice. Even if it is simply with a pencil for a modern calligraphy look.

So how did all of this finally work out in my final handout? You’ll just have to come to Midwinter and chat with me to find out. 🙂

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of inspiration, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Also, hopefully I’ll see some of you in Denver soon! Allons-y!

Friday Design: New Year, New Inspiration

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a good start to the new year. I can hardly believe we are already a week into the new term, but I’m looking forward to using the new year’s momentum to get a lot of things done. Today, I have a bit of inspiration and thoughts to hopefully help you get into a new year of designing, too.

First, time to refresh your desktop wallpaper, if you haven’t already. Check out the inspiring and cute designs over at Smashing Magazine.  I am partial to the penguin on the rainbow popsicle, which will surprise no one who knows me.

Second, if you need more inspiration (and really, who doesn’t?) check out this talk by Chip Kidd, The Art of First Impressions in Design and Life. Great ideas and practices to apply in your library design work. (Hint: we’re almost always going for clarity rather than mystery in our library designs)

Third, I have a question: what library graphic design projects or topics do you want to know more about? Let me know in comments and I’ll try to work them into posts this year.

Finally, some shameless self-promotion: if you are going to ALA Midwinter in Denver and are working on your schedule, I’d like to suggest that you come by to see me at the ALA Booth on Saturday, February 10th at 11:30 am.  I’ll be giving a brief talk about graphic design in libraries (without a projector! It will be fun!) and signing books (but, you know, only if you want your book signed). Stop by and say hi. Tell your friends. Hope to see you there.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I’m working on some projects that I hope to be sharing with you all soon. Until then, be kind, be creative, and have fun. Allons-y!

Friday Design: End of the Year Thoughts

Happy Friday, dear readers! I know it is not yet the end of the year, but I wanted to write an end-of-the year blog post before I dive deep into the holiday baking madness to save my computer from desecration by cookie dough. So, here’s some (hopefully) semi-organized thoughts, ideas, and inspiration about this year, mostly design and library focused.

It’s been a very interesting year, some really high highs and really low lows. But I’m going to focus on the good to try to keep the stress low and inspiration high for all of us. However, first, a signal boost and reminder to continue the fight to save net neutrality and contact your representatives in Congress. Check out Battle for the Net to get information on how to do this.

I don’t know about you, but I skated a little too close to burnout a little too often this year because of various work projects and commitments. Luckily, I had a trip to New Zealand to look forward to and it kept me going. (Yes, it really is that beautiful–see photo below):

photograph of hillside in New Zealand

And now I can safely say that it is an amazing country and a fabulous place to travel. Beautiful, calm, and inspiring. The landscape, cultures, and experiences have inspired me and my design. So, I hope you are able to travel, too, near or far away to see and experience something new to inspire you. It was even worth the awful cold I got as soon as I got home (better now, thank goodness).

While a lot has been trying and difficult this year, design work at the library has been a bright spot. Sometimes it feels like I can’t influence much of anything, but there is always something to be done. The No Space for Hate mini-poster I designed and was able to share here was one of the best ways of using my graphic design skills for good this year. I hope you find ways of using your design skills in the new year for good and in ways to inspire and uplift others.

[Shameless self-promotion following]

My most exciting event professionally was the publication of my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerning, in November. I even got to give an interview about why graphic design is important for all librarians that you can read here. It still feels a bit unreal that I actually got to write a book on graphic design on librarians. I hope you and your colleagues find the information useful and inspiring.

The handwriting, lettering, and calligraphy trend is still going strong, which is making everything look at least a bit homemade. And, it’s great for those of us who love an excuse to learn more about calligraphy. It’s also great for creating new designs for your library. If you have any resources you love for lettering or calligraphy, I’d love to hear about them. I’m hoping to do some larger calligraphy pieces in the new year.

So, what’s up around The Waki Librarian for the new year?

I’m going to be finishing up some library graphic design research in the new year, which I’m excited about and will hopefully start some new research, too. I want to work on redesigning more of the library’s bookmarks and handouts in the new year.

I’m also hoping to run, Blind Date with a Book, at my library in February. I’m looking forward to writing up blurbs for the books (another great excuse to practice calligraphy). If you’ve ever done it at your library and have some tips, I’d love to hear them.

Also, I’ll be at Midwinter, probably hanging out at the ALA booth seeing if anyone is buying my book (but, you know, not the whole time). If you are going to Midwinter and see me there, please say hi!

As this may be the last post here for the year, I want to wish you a wonderful end of the year and beautiful start to the new year. May you have endless inspiration for design and time to make your inspiration real. May you be kind and have kindness shown to you, whether you are in the library or out in the wider world.

And thank you, dear readers for continuing to read my blog and join me on this journey through libraries and graphic design. I will be back with more news and notes about libraries and design. Allons-y!