Friday Design: Semi-Homemade Designs

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely 4th of July holiday for those of you in the United States. I hope your Friday is quiet and relaxing, whether you are at work, at play, or at home. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about semi-homemade designs and how you can get custom work from templates (yes, *gasp* templates!).

I don’t know about you, but when the Food Network used to have more cooking shows than competition shows, I used to watch the show, Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. (There appears to even be some episodes streaming if you want to check it out.) I always found Lee’s show to be an accessible and practical take on cooking. In a world that often seems to say you should either make everything from scratch or don’t even bother, it was nice to see a balanced approach and even an acknowledgement of how busy life is and how we are all doing the best we can. And, how even if you don’t have 6 hours to devote to cooking and baking a huge meal, you can (and should) celebrate with family and friends.

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

We, too, can embrace the semi-homemade philosophy in terms of our marketing and design work. With a cup of creativity and a dash of DIY, we can reuse and remake templates as starting off bases for our designs so they reflect our libraries’ unique characteristics and still leave time for us to get all of our work done.

As you, dear readers, know, I’m a huge proponent and fan of making designs from scratch. The blank canvas (or screen) is our friend and splashing our own images and graphics is amazing and rewarding. BUT, it’s also time-consuming and often overkill for what we need our designs to accomplish.

Totally original, from scratch design for branding your library? YES! Of course! 100%! Don’t use a template!

Remix a template and give it some of your own flare for event flyers, handouts, and other ephemera for your library that you need to churn out like an industrial kitchen? YES! Totally! With you in the design trenches of the library wherever thinks creating an awesome flyer takes 30 seconds and your promotion list of designs that needed to be done yesterday just keeps growing.

So, yeah. Take advantage of riffing off others’ work and customizing templates when you need to and make some semi-homemade stuff.

Want examples? I’ve got examples.

I’ve been back just over two months at my library after leave and I have so many design and promotional projects that it is almost too much. My saving grace? I’ve been using Adobe Spark like it’s graphic design’s new Instant Pot that can make almost any ephemeral graphic I need! Of course, like with all templates, I chaff at not being able to customize everything I want, but it’s totally good enough for things like event flyers:

save the date open house card

Customized with a different font and change up of colors (I appreciate the eye dropper tool that allows me to coordinate text and background colors with the images I’m using).

Also things like website banners for LibGuides that were needed yesterday:

library workshops banner

Am I still designing graphics that are completely custom and homemade? Of course. I just refreshed our library logo, but that is something that isn’t made to be ephemeral and should be custom as it is part of our branding:

University Libraries, Heart of the Campus logo

So as you work through your mountain of design work, remember that, like Sandra Lee, semi-homemade can be your friend. Just make sure you also customize parts of it so all your designs still standout and work with your library’s identity.  Whether you use Adobe Spark, Canva, or something else, always put your own designer’s touch to your work and have some fun. It is summer, after all.

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

Friday Design: Library Swag

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good week and have a lovely weekend planned. Today, let’s talk a bit about library swag. Whether you love or hate getting it, swag is ubiquitous at conferences, workshops, and events. Libraries have long created and provided swag as part of our outreach and promotional efforts and we’ve probably all seen good, bad, and downright ugly swag.

I love good swag. What do I mean by good? If swag is well-designed and useful to me, I love it. Clever and unique swag might draw me in, but if it isn’t well-designed and it has no use for me, I don’t find it great. So how do we create great swag that won’t end up cluttering someone’s dorm room or office and instead gets used and loved?

The way we do everything: with thoughtful design.

Swag doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be well-designed and useful. Take the humble button. Button making supplies aren’t super-expensive and the presses can be reused for years with care so you just have to keep buying pin backs and covers as consumables. You can find lots of design inspiration online and buttons are fast to design because the canvas is so small. Think pithy, clever, and concise on buttons. This is a photo of some I created for our summer orientation events. You can get your library marketing in on the rim of the button (I added our library’s URL).

photograph of well-designed buttons that say, Read, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

Buttons are almost universally popular with our students. You can also use button-making as a library event as other libraries have done.

Small swag like buttons also encourage interaction at outreach events. They are small and if you have multiple designs, people like to read/look at them all before choosing. It’s a great time to have a short conversation, answer a question about the library, or plug an upcoming library event.

 

But swag, like grades, seems to be getting inflated over the years and departments often compete to have the coolest, most popular swag at events. From pop sockets to water bottles, T-shirts to sunglasses, the amount your library can spend on swag is truly astronomical.

If you are looking to up your swag game and have the budget for more expensive swag, make sure it’s something your target population wants (asking is always the way to do this) and make sure you can brand it with your library’s logo. It’s important for this type of swag to be useful and to provide a promotional push for your library. For example, we purchased power banks for an upcoming library event to use as prizes as you can see in the photo below.

photograph of power bank with library's logo on it

You can’t miss our branding on these power banks! Larger canvases are great for going large with your library’s logo and create striking promotional messages.

So I hope these two examples have given you some inspiration for swag in your library. Remember, you can always do right by creating simple, bold designs for your swag. Stand out with great design on a useful product and you’ve got a winning combination for your next piece of library swag.

See you back here with more design news and notes soon. 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!

 

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!

 

Why Being On-Campus Matters: Or, the Benefits of Drop-ins

Happy Friday, dear readers! So here we are, into December already. Can you believe we are in the last month of the calendar year? Neither can I. The days and weeks and months have seemed to fly since the school year started. But here we are. Today, I wanted share a bit about why being on-campus matters to me as a librarian and my one unscheduled day of the week when being on-campus just might matter (almost) most.

This quarter, my only day when I don’t have a meeting, class, or reference desk hours scheduled is on Tuesday. I feel rather grateful for having a day when I’m not automatically scheduled to be somewhere other than my office. If that makes me sound old-fashioned or out-of-touch, I don’t really care. It is nice to have some unscheduled time, especially when I am expected to research and publish in addition to my teaching and service duties. I often use Tuesdays for research: writing and revising article manuscripts, analyzing transcripts for a study, or finishing up grant paperwork. Tuesdays are my unofficial research day, but they’ve also become my unofficial “drop-in to see me” day for students, colleagues, and unexpected visitors.

In one Tuesday, I had an unexpected transfer of materials to the archives from an office that was moving, food drive donations, a history professor stop by to chat, an impromptu check-in about next term’s outstanding scheduling issues (even though I’m technically not scheduling all of our courses this year), and a request from a colleague for help with a misbehaving tutorial software program. To me, this day served as a reminder and an example for why being present on-campus and available, even when I’m not technically in office hours, is so important. As an academic librarian, a library faculty member, I have a lot of flexibility with my time and days, but it is still so important to be around, in the library, to have these serendipitous encounters. Not to mention, being able to have a chat with another professor and help a colleague rescue their tutorial work, totally made my day.

Would I have gotten even more research done had I been holed up in another place no one could find me? Definitely. Would I get annoyed if I got interrupted throughout the whole of my day? Completely. But is it worth a little less productivity to help out? Of course. Plus, it reminds me why I love librarianship. I love being able to help people; I love the conversations and the problem-solving; I love having the library be part of the larger community, on campus and off.

So, my unscheduled day has reminded me why being on-campus and available is so important. It is a reminder to not overschedule myself so I’m available for those drop-in moments and those serendipitous chats (and so I have the headspace to be present and open to these conversations).

So I hope, dear readers, that you have some unscheduled time in your day for these kind of encounters and if you don’t, that you do soon. We are all continually stretched to our limits, I think, but it is good to remember that sometimes it really is being around and present that counts in getting our work done. Allons-y!

 

 

Teaching at the End of Summer

Happy Friday, dear readers! I know the blog has been quiet this last month. This is mainly due to my co-teaching in our Summer Bridge Program. Next week is the last week of the program, which is bittersweet. It has been a blast teaching, but also exhausting. After the program is over, there is less than 3 weeks before we begin our fall quarter. So today, I just want to reflect a bit about this busier than I expected summer and some ideas that may be of use to you in your teaching.

So What is Summer Bridge?
For those who are not familiar with the program, Summer Bridge is part of EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) designed to help first-generation, low income, and/or historically disadvantaged students successfully make the transition to the university. At my university, Summer Bridge is an intensive five-week program with classes in math, information literacy, foundations, and ethnic studies or biological sciences (depending on student interest). The students are in class from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm five days a week. Although we all know that five weeks can’t completely prepare students for fall quarter, it can help them feel more comfortable at the university, make friends, learn how to interact with faculty and staff members, and get a leg up when it comes to navigating classwork in the fall.

So What’s the Library’s Role?
My colleague, Gr Keer, and I designed and currently teach the library’s class in Summer Bridge. We have 40 students twice a week for two hours at a time. The course is designed as a pre-LIBY 1210 course, which is the information literacy course required of all first-year, undergraduate students. We’ve covered searching the library catalog, finding textbooks, introduction to databases, identifying information sources, reading citations, evaluating information, information privacy, copyright, and more. I see our role as getting the students more comfortable with accessing and using library resources, understanding that the librarians are here to help them with their research, and reversing any negative reactions they have to libraries and librarians.

So Why Am I a Part of Summer Bridge? (Or, Why Be Exhausted for 5 weeks When I Could Be Catching Up on Research and Writing?)
I’m a part of Summer Bridge because I believe it is the most important thing I could be doing with my time in the summer. I believe that these students, my students, deserve support in transitioning to college and that librarians are some of the best people to help them with this transition. We’re all about helping and supporting students. That’s what libraries and librarians do! Plus, it is a fantastic way to connect more deeply with our fantastic EOP leaders and promote the library as the go-to help point for students when they are researching during the upcoming hear. Plus, I love teaching and teaching in Summer Bridge is one of the places that I feel I can make the most positive impact on our students. Working with upper-division and graduate students can be loads of fun, but I don’t feel like I can make as great an impact on them as with the students in Summer Bridge or in the freshmen classes I teach during the academic year.

Having an impact makes the exhaustion worth it. Makes the hours I could have used to write up my research papers and finish analyzing more data worth it. Seeing and hearing students become passionate about information privacy, understand how to find a book for their class, or find the courage to answer a question in a class discussion for the first time makes it worth it.

So my summer will be over soon and the craziness of the academic year will start up. Could I have gotten more research done on graphic design in libraries if I didn’t devote hours to prepping and teaching Summer Bridge? Sure, but I still managed to get research done anyway this summer. Could I have finished processing another collection in the archives if I hadn’t been expending energy getting students excited about using Boolean Operators? Sure, but the collections aren’t going anywhere.

Everything we do in our work and our lives is a trade-off and goodness knows I’ve made choices that definitely weren’t worth the trade-off. But I can 100% say that teaching in Summer Bridge was and is totally worth any opportunity costs this summer. And I hope to see some of my students in my information literacy classes in the coming year.

I hope you’ve had a lovely week and have a lovely weekend planned, dear readers. I’m hoping to be back soon with more news, thoughts, and notes. Allons-y!

Thinking about Everyday Design

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you have had a lovely week and have a great weekend planned. Today I want to take a few minutes to discuss something near and dear to my heart–design. More specifically I want to talk about everyday design. Since I’m a librarian and not a professional designer, I can’t talk about professionally designing logos or fonts or things like that, but I can talk about using good design in creating things for the library that are beautiful and functional. So today I want to share with you a few design articles, resources, and thoughts.

It is no secret that I’m a fan of the I love Typography blog. It is a great blog of font news and interesting notes about typography. I love this short video on The Sign Painter. Doesn’t it just make you want to have beautifully hand-lettered signs made for your library? I can just see some gorgeous signs painted on our windows in the front of the library welcoming students back from the summer and into the library.

Speaking of beautiful design and just beauty in general, you should really check out the winners of the 2014 Photo Contest by National Geographic. They are absolutely beautiful.

If that inspires you to think more about your everyday photography or just design in general, you might be interested in Lifehacker’s article on three basic design principles everyone can use in everyday life. Some good tips to think about.

Also, when talking about design, we can’t help but talk about Photoshop. I love working with Photoshop because it is so powerful and allows me to create what I need when designing things for myself and for the library. But I also know that Photoshop is very expensive and not in the budget for everyone and every library. That’s why I’m happy to share this article on the best free Photoshop alternatives. I’m looking forward to working more with GIMP.

I think that great design is a wonderful thing to behold and that we can all contribute to making the world a little more beautiful, at least in our library worlds, through learning design concepts and working to create beautiful and usable things for our libraries.

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

Tips for Office Collegiality and Career

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have lovely plans for the weekend. I’m looking forward to doing some reading, hopefully refinishing a nightstand (in dreadful need of a few new coats of paint), and maybe even taking a nap. But that is neither here nor there, as first I need to share a couple of articles that I think should be shared widely to help those starting off in new jobs and any of us introverts who still struggle with the whole “networking” thing for “personal branding.”

I haven’t been an office greenhorn for a couple of years now, which is actually kind of nice. But I do remember the stress and desire to make a good impression and not put my foot in my mouth too many times a day when I first started at my current organization. It can be difficult to fit in and easy to make unconscious mistakes when at a new organization. I think this short article is a really good read for anyone in a new job and should be shared with those you know who are starting a new job: 4 Mistakes the Office Greenhorn Should Avoid. By following this article’s advice and tips, you should not only avoid some mistakes, but make it easier on yourself (and your colleagues) to be collegial. And working well together is always a good thing.

No matter whether you are the new person at the organization or the senior colleague, networking can be difficult. I hate even calling it networking or thinking about “personal branding” which to me brings to mind cattle branding since I grew up in a rural area. So I appreciated this article on how to tackle personal branding when you’re an introvert. I’m sure you or some of your colleagues will enjoy it, too. (Also, two thumbs up for Quiet, a must-read for everyone, introverted or not).

I hope you have a relaxing, productive, recharging weekend. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!

Writing

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! I hope you are well and are enjoying the last bits of summer. One of the local high schools in my area is already back in session, which makes my morning commute rather interesting. But today, instead of focusing on that, let’s talk about writing.

Writing has, perhaps obviously, been on my mind a lot recently. Now that I’m done with my dissertation, I’m working on a number of articles with various supervisors and other colleagues. So no break from writing for me. Luckily, for the most part, I like writing and I really like getting my ideas and research across clearly to others. That’s probably why I like teaching, too. But what has really fascinated me, both in writing articles and writing in the dissertation process, is how differently everyone writes and what is considered “good” writing.

I’ve really enjoyed this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Becoming a Stylish Writer, because it discusses many of the issues I’ve encountered while writing, editing, and revising. I think we should all agree to write more clearly, just say no to convoluted work, and write so that it is a pleasure to read, not a task to endure. I’m in agreement that convoluted, dense writing does not make for a joyful reading experience, nor does it mean that the writer is more intelligent or smarter necessarily.

I know it is a very old piece of advice, but I still like it: Write like you talk or like you think. I just have a conversation with an imagined reader when I’m writing an article, or presentation, or class lecture, and try to be as engaging as possible. Let your passion show through your work. It makes for better reading.

While this article isn’t about writing, it is about communication: a better way to ask for career advice. Share widely and help out yourself and your friends/family members/patrons. This article has fantastic advice and, as someone who talks a lot with graduate students, I can attest that using this advice makes for a much more satisfying and productive informational interview experience.

Also, since hacked accounts have been in the news recently, I had to share Should I Change My Password? Use the site to check if your password has been compromised. Great service.

I hope you have a fantastic day, dear readers. Write something, create something, cook something, and have a relaxing time. I’ll be back soon with more thoughts about libraries, archives, technology, and life. Allons-y!

Letterpress Fun!

Happy Wednesday! I hope you are having a lovely day, dear readers. Someone has confused the weather here in the Bay Area and it is raining today. I feel like sleeping rather than working, but alas, that is not to be. Instead, I’m going to talk just briefly about some fun I had over the weekend and then let you get back to your day.

On Saturday I went to San Francisco Center for the Book in order to see Moveable Type, which I’ve already talked about on this blog. It’s pretty awesome to see a converted van that’s set up for demonstrating the art of using letterpresses. It was awesome to hear Kyle Durrie (who also owns and runs Power and Light Press in Portland, Oregon) talk about her craft and demonstrate the usage of two of her presses.

My favorite of the two presses was definitely the one in the photo below, which used to be used a lot by businesses to create inexpensive posters and ads.

Letterpress

Letterpress

We even got to try our hand at using the letterpresses. This is the result of what I made using the above letterpress. I think it came out rather well.

Example from the Letterpress

Example from the Letterpress

Finally, Kyle Durrie was selling some of her letterpress cards and posters, all of which were awesome. I couldn’t help but buy a couple of the design featured below. (I told her I was a librarian and she thought it was rather appropriate that I bought the cards.)

Checkout Slip Card

Checkout Slip Card

You should check out Moveable Type’s blog to see if the Type Truck is coming to your neck of the woods and you can always request a visit if there isn’t a stop near you. And, if it works out in her schedule, maybe Kyle will do a demo in your hometown.

I thought it was a great way to spend a day in the city and a great juxtaposition to all the technology stuff so many of us are working with and on during the workweek. Now I just have to figure out how to make one of those poster presses…

I hope the rest of your day is wonderful (and rain-free). I’ll be back on Friday with some archives, library, and tech news. Allons-y!