Friday Designs: Signs, Inspiration, and Randomness

Happy Friday, dear readers! We’ve made it to the end of another week. The fall quarter (our last as a quarter campus) has started and the weather has turned cool (although it looks like we’ll get another heatwave next week), so it’s time to get back into the academic swing of things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun so I have a few things to get you through to the lovely first weekend of autumn.

First up, a landscape version of the All are Welcome Sign. In order to put these up in our elevators in the library, I had to reconfigure the signs to landscape orientation. In case your library has landscape-oriented sign holders, I thought I’d share this version (click on image to get the printable PDF), too. Please print, use, and share. We could all use some welcome about now.

image of poster reading, there is no space for hate in our library all are welcome we stand in solidarity with all who fight for equity, diversity, and inclusion

I thought most of us would appreciate Lifehacker’s article, the library doesn’t usually want your used books. We’ve all gotten those well-meaning, but not-so-useful donations. And, if you’re not doing a huge project making altered books, it is a great reminder to send would-be donors to other, more receptive places.

I was thinking of what was inspiring me right now to try out new things in my designs and I have to say it is probably snapping more photos (both digital and instax analog) to see what I bits of photos I can use in other projects and what more I could share about graphic design that would be useful to librarian graphic designers. I think a lot about design and sharing so expect some more examples of designs and redesigns soon.

Also, because the weather has finally cooled down here and that means baking time, I had to share this Joy the Baker recipe for brown butter cookies and cream rice krispie treats. I am so excited to try this recipe soon!

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

Mid-Week Design Inspiration

Hello, dear readers! I was thinking that we all could use a little mid-week pickup and wanted to share some design inspiration and news as we barrel on towards the middle of September. I hope you and your loved ones are safe, you are able to use your time and skills to help where you can, and you have found ways for using your graphic design skills to help others.

In wonderful library news, my dean approved printing of two large welcome banners. I installed them at both our entrances and wanted to share. I’m rather happy with how they turned out.

Banner saying: this is your library, there is no space for hate, here all are welcome. We stand with all who fight for equity, inclusion, and diversity.

In case you missed it, lovely September desktop wallpapers. There is no time like the present to make your desktop look lovely for autumn. I currently have the cutest desktop of all year with cats and foxes–love having a dual-monitor set-up for this (and the productivity, of course).

Also, who doesn’t get inspired by books? (I mean, that’s kind of a silly question for those of us in libraries.) So I wanted to share this lovely (truly!) list of books on type and lettering from The Well-Appointed Desk.  More to add to my “to read” list.

I recently finished reading (and let’s be honest, drooling) over the beautiful work showcased in Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks. If you haven’t viewed this book yet, I highly recommend it. It is a trove of inspiration for creating beautiful and effective infographics for so many different types of projects. Makes me want to sketch all day and redesign every report we put out for the library.

And finally, although I know we should all be good and eating healthy, sometimes you (okay, I mean “I”) just want a brownie. So I leave you with this amazing recipe from Joy the Baker for Thick S’more Brownies.

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. You find time and inspiration to use your design skills to welcome and support everyone at your library. And you even find time to have a brownie or two (I won’t tell if you offer to share with me, too!). I’ll be back soon with more design news and notes. Allons-y!

 

Friday Design: No Space for Hate in the Library Flyer

Happy Friday, dear readers! It has been a week, hasn’t it? I hope you and your family, friends, neighbors, and everyone you know are safe. I hope, if you can, you’ve been able to send support to those affected by Hurricane Harvey (link to list of places to donate) and any other causes that need it, as we know so many do now. So in these times, it can feel like talking about graphic design and libraries is trivial or that we can’t possibly do anything that can help. But of course, that’s not true. We can help in our communities, just as we can help those we may never meet. To that end, I want to share a flyer that I hope you post in your library and that will inspire you to create more messages of love to share with the world.

So I made this flyer.

there is no space for hate in our library all our welcome. we stand with all who fight for equity, diversity and inclusion

The book graphic is from freepik (with modification to the colors), thus the credit line below it, but the rest I wrote, typeset, and colorized. Feel free to download the flyer (PDF version) via this link.  It is scaled to print on letter-sized paper.

It’s important that everyone know our libraries are safe, welcoming spaces. We know this as librarians, but sometimes we have a difficult time articulating it loudly. So I hope this flyer helps a bit. I’m hoping that my library administration approves the funds for printing a standing banner version of this flyer that I made for placement in our entrance lobby areas (if not, I’m going to have to make friends down at the local print shop).

So, if you ever feel like you are struggling to connect your work to causes close to your heart and make a difference when it just all seems to be going wonky in the world, remember you can always help out. You never know what you say, do, or make that might start the spark that causes great amounts of positive change.

I hope you have a good weekend and feel inspired to make your designs do more, say more, be more. Together we truly can do good things. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Let's Be Loud

Happy Friday, dear readers! So wow, I don’t know about you, but I’m still processing this week. Let’s get something out of the way right away before diving into some design: Nazis are bad. Hate is bad. There is no room for either in our work as libraries, in our libraries, in our communities, and I believe that we can be louder in our calls and actions of love and welcome and solidarity. There’s definitely no room for hate or othering or an of the many “isms” in our work as librarian graphic designers either and our creative work can be a powerful form of resistance. So, with that, let’s get into what I mean about being loud and what it has to do with design.

Art is powerful. Words are powerful. As librarian graphic designers, we wield both on a daily basis. As librarians, our business is information, knowledge creation, and support for lifelong learning. Our business is in words. Which is great at this moment and every moment because we can be loud.

And I don’t mean just in the “let’s go against shushing stereotypes of librarians loud.” I mean loud in the graphical sense, too, with what we choose to create and post and share in our libraries and communities. We wield the epic power of brushes, paints, posterboard, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Publisher. We can create and adapt posters and banners and flyers and buttons that show publicly that we are about inclusion and diversity and love and reading and community and all the things that build us up as people together instead of tearing us down.

So as you are working on your next design, remember that design is never neutral just as typefaces are never neutral. We can use our graphic design work to make a difference, however small, and add our voice to the conversation.

So be loud in your designs. Be bold in your stance. Mark your library as a safe space. And show everyone how important librarian graphic designers are beyond marketing and promotion. Break out of your shell in your designs. We can do this, together.

I’m working on new banners and posters for my library to greet our students when they come back for the fall term. I want there to be no doubt where my library stands and I can do this through my designs. I’ll be sharing them, too, in upcoming posts for inspiration and for you to use, too.

If you’ve created graphics of welcome for your library, I’d love to see them. Please share and let’s be loud in our library designs together!

May you have a weekend full of good times, rest, and inspiration to continue your work and your art. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Inspirations and Sabbaticals

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has been going well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I’m working through the final pages of proofs for my book and looking forward to seeing some friends and recharging my design inspiration batteries this weekend. To that end, I want to share some resources for inspiration (as usual) and some thoughts on sabbaticals (as promised) today.

First the inspiration. I love these monthly posts for design inspiration from Smashing Magazine. This month’s one I find especially inspiring in terms of color palettes. With the end of summer just another turn of the calendar away, I’m itching to create some bright new designs for my library so we can keep the summer vibe even with the school year starting.

Also, if you need some typography or lettering reads, check out the list over at The Well-Appointed Desk for suggestions. I find endless inspiration looking at great type and lettering. I hope you do, too.

Now, some thoughts on sabbaticals. I was super-excited to be awarded a sabbatical during last year in the fall quarter. This meant that, with adding in vacation time, I was able to be “out of the office” from mid-September until we started the winter quarter in January of this year. To say it was a fantastic experience was an understatement. In the words of one of my dear friends, it freakin’ rocked! I finally caught up on rest and was able to be so productive. I wrote, edited, and illustrated my book that is coming out this fall during that time. (Obviously copyediting, proofing, and layout came later, but the bulk of my work was done on sabbatical.) I was able to do all that, plus hang out more with my husband and friends, have time to walk and hike, participate in NaNoWriMo, and travel. Oh, and there were almost daily naps. I miss my naps.

Sabbaticals, contrary to some misconceptions, are not about getting paid not to work. They’re about having the headspace and time to tackle big projects that can’t get done (or can’t get done well in a reasonable amount of time) during the regular work schedule. So, once every 7 years, there is the possibility of a sabbatical. It’s not a guarantee at my university that you’ll get one just because you’re eligible, but you can apply for one. I’m already thinking about what audacious projects I could do if I were awarded another sabbatical and how I’ll possibly wedge in writing more books before then.

What my sabbatical taught me is what I really love about my work as an academic librarian, what really drives me and inspires me and what totally drains me. It was clarifying for me and also allowed me to be a whole lot less stressed than usual, which I think everyone in my life appreciated. Trying to bring this knowledge to bear on how I work while at the library is still a work in progress, but I’m hoping to be more balanced and able to move forward on projects (especially in graphic design) as we go into the next academic year.

So what’s this have to do with anything? Well, I hope you enjoy reading my finished book that came together during my sabbatical. I hope that you’re able to find ways to carve out space to do things that inspire you, even if sabbaticals aren’t an option. I hope you (and me and everyone) can maintain our joy in what we love to do so we can continue to make progress in whatever work inspires us, even if it won’t be progressing as fast as if we had whole days to devote to it. Plus, if you ever get a chance to apply for a sabbatical, take it. It really can be amazing.

Finally, just for fun, if you missed the hilarious Twitter exchange between Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig, please do yourself a favor and read it. It will make you laugh out loud…When Authors Talk on Twitter: Slasher Movie Edition.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of inspiration and relaxation. I’ll be back soon with more design news and notes (maybe even book updates). Allons-y!

Big News: My Graphic Design Book for Librarians is Available for Pre-Order!

easy graphic design for librarians book cover

Yes, you read that blog post title correctly. I have a book coming out! (*squee*) I’m super-excited to be able to share that my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerningis now available for pre-order! It’s in the ALA Store and everything. Tell your friends, tell your colleagues, tell anyone who does graphic design work for their libraries. Many, many thanks for spreading the word!

So you might be wondering, book? What book? When were we talking about a book?

Answers: yes, see above, not until today.

So a bit of background. Obviously, my dear readers who have been following this blog know that I’m passionate about graphic design. I love to share what I know and the idea of writing a book began percolating in the back of my mind after the 2015 ALA conference where I presented a poster session on my research on librarians and graphic design. I looked to see what was out there and there wasn’t much focused on librarians, which was interesting. So, being that I’m eligible for sabbaticals at my university, I applied and was awarded a sabbatical for fall quarter of last year (2016).

I spent my sabbatical writing my book and also used the time to send in a book proposal to ALA Editions. I was thrilled that they wanted the book and I did do a happy dance in front of my desk before getting back to writing, illustrating, and editing.

It’s been a whirlwind the last few months as I turned in my manuscript earlier this year, went through copyediting, and am currently finishing up reviewing proofs. I can’t wait to hold the finished book in my hands–and I don’t have to wait long as it’s coming out this fall!

I’ll write more about the process, my sabbatical, and other thoughts later. But I really just wanted to share that my book is real, it’s being published, and I can’t wait for you to read it. I’m so excited to be sharing in more detail my passion for graphic design in libraries with you.

Thanks, as always, for reading. And I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

End of the Quarter Thoughts and Some Design Fun

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely week and have something wonderful planned for this weekend. Hard to believe we are already through more than a week of June. The time really does fly, though I know I’m hoping for it to slow down a bit as we head into summer. It is almost the end of the quarter here, grades are due next week, and commencements are happening this weekend. So I wanted to share a few thoughts on the end of the quarter and, of course, some design fun.

The end of this term marks nine years of teaching at my university, which also means I’ve taught first-year freshmen for nine years. The years have flown by, yet at the same time it seems like I’ve been teaching forever. Many of you can empathize with the conflicting feeling about how time feels, especially with regards to work. I’m in no way an expert, yet, in teaching and I find myself questioning more every year as I research, practice, and reflect to become better. But even as I continue to learn and grow, which we all should do as teachers (and I’d argue all librarians and archivists are teachers), I have a few thoughts to share that have helped me through the wonderful highs and inevitable lows of teaching, especially with this past quarter.

This past quarter was a rough one for most of the instructors I talked with, both inside and outside my department, for a multitude of reasons. But even when it seems like the world is tilting the wrong way and there are a dozen other things competing for my time and attention, when I’m in the classroom I’m there 100%. It doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge what else is happening–it is crucial, especially in a class on information literacy–but it can’t overwhelm so that I’m not there, present (really present) for my students. Creating a place of calm, of discussion, of learning, of sanity was vital this quarter.

By spring quarter, many of my first-year students were already overwhelmed and ready to check-out for summer. But creating an orderly space, creating trust, and setting expectations gave my students who made use of the class a place where they could take ownership over their learning and create some control over what is often an uncontrollable total experience in life (and in the academy). Getting students to engage is always the hardest hurdle to jump, but once they do, once they feel like it is important, then the rest is so much easier.

One constant from all my classes is that reflection is one of the most effective and powerful tools for teaching that I’ve found. When I first had students start writing weekly reflections years ago, I had a number of colleagues who told me it was a waste of time. Students would just parrot whatever I said in class and wouldn’t take it seriously. They would write whatever they thought I wanted to read, I was told. None of that turned out to be true. While some students don’t complete their reflections (you can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do, even if points are attached), most diligently complete them each week and are honest (sometimes brutally) about what they learned, how they’ve found it useful (or not), and what concerns they have moving forward. It has been one of the best ways I’ve found to get my students to review what they’ve learned and to find sticky points to improve in future classes.

Finally, I’ve had to accept that there is no perfect lesson, no perfect assignment, no perfect thing I can say that will reach all my students to get them to engage and succeed in my class. I can try a dozen different ways to explain, to connect, to help, but if a student doesn’t want to come to class or do the work, in the end I have little to no control over that. We can’t make anyone do anything; we can only guide and support. So I’ve had to let go of taking it personally when students don’t hand in assignments or answer my emails. I’ve had to learn not to take it as a personal failing when a student doesn’t pass my class. If I’ve done everything I can to support a student and they haven’t accepted my support, there is nothing else I can do. This continues to be the most frustrating and disappointing aspect of teaching, but I’m learning to live with it and focus on the vast majority of students that do see the value in the course and want to learn.

Those are just a few of my jumbled thoughts through the haze of grading. Perhaps there will be more later, perhaps not. But now, let’s get into some design fun before we head out for the weekend.

A new month means new desktop wallpapers and Smashing Magazine doesn’t disappoint with June Desktop Wallpapers.

Also, there’s another lovely, free icon set available for your summer designing needs: Geometric UI Icons

Plus, a longer read from Smashing Magazine, Make ‘Em Shine: How to Use Illustrations to Elicit Emotions

I hope you have a wonderful day and weekend filled with good reads, good friends, and some good food. I hope you have something fantastic to design or to make that makes your heart lighter. And I hope that you have some lovely summer plans. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes.

Not Teaching Cynicism

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had another lovely week. It is hard to believe we are almost halfway through May. While I am looking forward to the summer, I’m not sure that I’m ready for so much of the year to be over. My list of things I want to do this year is long and it would be nice to have a pause button so I could make some more progress (and have time to nap!). Be that as it may, today I want to share something that is a bit different than my usual design inspiration (though there is some of that as well at the end), but something important and at the fore of my mind this term–not teaching cynicism.

So as many know, while I love graphic design and apply what I know to helping my library visually communicate whenever I have the chance, I wasn’t hired by my library as a graphic design librarian. I was hired, like my colleagues, as a liaison librarian who has responsibilities for teaching our required, freshmen, information literacy class (among many other duties). Because of this, I spend a lot of time thinking, creating, facilitating, helping, and reflecting on the teaching and learning of information literacy. This year, more than most, has been a struggle to model and teach skepticism versus cynicism. But it is more important than ever for my students and myself.

As I’ve been teaching now for almost nine years, I’ve of course changed a lot of how I teach as is natural. And two things that I focus on much more now than when I was so very new to teaching are: reflection and evaluation. Reflection comes easily for my students and, in contradiction to some colleagues who thought it would be otherwise, students are very–sometimes surprisingly–honest in their reflections. Their reflections on their learning, which I have them complete weekly, help them to review what they’ve learned and how they can apply it and help me figure out what needs review, refinement, and revision in our time together.

Reflection is too often overlooked, in our hurry-hurry world, but it helps in teaching & learning and graphic design. And it keeps me from falling into being cynical about the world. And cynicism helps neither teaching nor learning.

Another counter to cynicism is remaining skeptical and knowing how to evaluate claims, sources, and well, really anything. Evaluation of sources has been one of the most difficult concepts for my students over the years. It is a new way of thinking and interacting with information for them, but it is an empowering way of interacting with information. I challenge them to question and critique, but also to stay away from the pit of cynicism. This is hard because every day the news brings something that hits home for us: rising tuition, questions of employment, concerns about housing, whether their voice matters, and everything else that keeps a lot of us up at night or in the early hours of the morning wondering what happened to kindness and empathy and caring.

So we talk about how hard it is to stay positive and willing to engage with school and life. We read research on what we can do that has a positive impact on our lives as students and as engaged humans. And we support each other when it is difficult because I have to model skepticism for them if I expect them to live it, too. And that balance of skepticism and do something in the face of cynicism is a hard thing for any of us to do, but it’s important.

What does any of this have to do with graphic design? I don’t know about you, but trying to communicate from a place of cynicism doesn’t work for me. There is no joy there, no creativity, no ability to connect and communicate visually. So I walk back from that edge and continue creating and teaching because for me that is the only way through. By caring, I can create. And by creating, I can connect. And by connecting, I can overcome cynicism and remain skeptical, but engaged. I and my students can’t ignore the problems and challenges in the world, but we can come together and ensure we don’t add to the cynicism that does nothing to change it.

Whether at the reference desk, in the classroom, or in your designs, I ask you choose skepticism over cynicism. And I hope you find inspiration to connect and create because we all need you to.

Now, as promised, the design inspiration. New-ish month means new May Inspiration and May Desktop Wallpapers from Smashing Magazine. Hope they inspire some new work for you, too.

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

Library Graphic Design Inspiration in the New Year

Happy Friday, dear readers! We’ve made it to the end of the first workweek of the year. Hard to believe we’re almost a week into 2017 already. Time really does go by too quickly no matter what it seems like is happening or we’re doing. For this first post of the new year, I want to share a few things that I hope will get you excited about your library graphic design work in the new year, perhaps even think of some new goals you want to achieve.

As for me, I’m not much of a new year’s resolution kind of person. I have enough stress without piling on more pressure with a bunch of lofty resolutions. However, I am all about goals and setting goals allows me to plan what I want to do in the new year, both professionally and personally. On the professional, design-oriented side, I want to increase my skills in hand lettering–it’s gotten so big over the last few years. It will be a nice complement to my continuing practice of calligraphy and hopefully expand the scope and feel of what I design in the new year. I’m not sure yet what I’ll get a chance to design for my library, but I’m hoping I get lots of opportunities (or I just might have to make my own).

Speaking of getting inspiration for new designs, it’s a new month and you know what that means–awesome new desktop wallpapers from Smashing Magazine. I’m particularly enamored of the tea pot and tea bag one, so calming for the new year. Also, the wonderful illustrated wallpapers reminds me that another goal is to continue to improve my ability to use Illustrator (a librarian graphic designer can never stop learning).

An older post, but still wonderful, is this photo-heavy post of a pin-sized book of Life’s Lil Pleasures. Miniature books are wonderful and this one is quite miniature. Plus, it would be a great challenge for bookbinding, which I think is another area where librarian graphic designers can learn to stretch their creative wings and use to improve their design work. There is something incredibly satisfying about creating a book by hand. It is a nice change from all the work we do in front of a computer when we are designing flyers and brochures for the library.

And, finally, because sometimes you just need a peaceful scene to look at when all seems too overwhelming, I give you Pickles at the Green Dragon. You can’t help but smile looking at that photo. So peaceful.

I’ll be back soon with a post reflecting on last year’s design work and where I see this year going. Along with more tips and hints for creating some great library graphic design projects. Until then, I hope you are inspired to break out your pencils and start sketching something new.

I hope you have a lovely first weekend of the month and a wonderful year full of opportunities and time to create awesome things for your library and your life. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Design and NaNoWriMo

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are well and that November is treating you kindly! How did we get so far into November already? Time is really flying, especially if you are participating in NaNoWriMo. So what does NaNoWriMo have to do with design? I’m glad you asked.

For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. November is NaNoWriMo, which means thousands of writers all over the world are attempting (and succeeding) in writing a novel in 30 days. Yes, an entire novel–at least 50,000 words–in November. It’s audacious, crazy, exciting, and fun. Plus, lots of libraries get in the action by becoming Come Write In partners and hosting write-ins–meet-ups for writers–at their libraries. My library is a Come Write In partner for the second year and I’m hoping we have even more writers come this year. It’s hard to say no to free coffee and cookies in a quiet library space when you are on a writing deadline. If you’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo, I really think you should and it isn’t too late to start this year.

But what does NaNoWriMo have to do with graphic design in libraries?

Well, I could tell you that writing a novel will help you with creating great copy for your next flyer, poster, or brochure–it probably couldn’t hurt your copy writing abilities. I could tell you that getting writers into your library for Come Write In events is a great outreach opportunity and they may even take a look at your current exhibits or other programming when they come out of their writing fog–they probably will. Or, I could tell you that there’s nothing like banging away at a keyboard during a word sprint to encourage you to stop making excuses and just get writing–it totally works.

But really, the best reason for doing NaNoWriMo in terms of library design is that it isn’t about library graphic design. You aren’t cropping photos, you aren’t matching color swatches, and you aren’t creating a grid for the next newsletter layout. You’re writing. Pure and simple, words on the screen or in your notebook. You are exercising another area of your brain, taking a break from your sketchbook to get into your word processing notebook. And that’s great!

This break from consciously working on graphic design–but still working on a creative project–will give your subconscious time to process and find solutions to your design challenges. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to create even better designs for your next outreach brochure or flyer for storytime. This is a great thing that should also absolve you of any lingering guilt for taking time away from doing more and learning more on graphic design. By widening your scope of creative endeavors, you widen your personal encyclopedia of inspiration and understanding to draw from in your next project.

Plus, you’ll probably have a chance to eat a cookie and drink some coffee or tea while resting your wrists before another wordsprint. And, who knows, you might find another graphic designer among the writers at your event who you’d never meet otherwise.

So get out there and find inspiration through writing. You never know what you’ll be able to bring back into your library graphic design work until you do. And, good luck and fast writing to all my fellow WriMos! 🙂

I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!