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!

Content Programming

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I hope that your day is going well. I hope that this post goes up and is publicized via Twitter as scheduled considering I’ll be on a plane going to a friend’s wedding when this is supposed to be posted and who knows when I’ll be back online. Anyway, today I just want to riff on one of Seth Godin’s latest posts and what I think it has to do with archivists and librarians. So let’s get into the fun of content programming.

Seth Godin recently wrote this post, In Praise of Programming. It’s a nice, short, interesting read. I’ll wait here while you read it. See? Quite interesting, right? It reminded me immediately of the work that archivists and librarians do everyday. We constantly do programming, whether we are in a public library setting, academic setting, or community archives.

I think it’s important to remember that we are about programming and that programming is a social activity. It’s not that we are just data curators or content distributors, we are also about value-added programming. This may be in the form of recommending what to read next, explaining how to actually use that shiny new tech tool in a meaningful way in the classroom, or directing the researcher to that newly processed collection that hasn’t made it into the online database just yet. We create meaning and connections through programming. I think this is one of the most important things that we do each day.

It is also a reminder that we need to remember our audience in all that we do. We need to involve the users/patrons/researchers in our programming. This is a great time to flex your evidence-based practice muscles and gather some data from your users to improve programming at your archives and library.

It’s such an exciting time we live in, with tons of change and new opportunities. But instead of running around like kittens, cashing every new shiny thing in our path, we can thoughtful collect, curate, and program our services and resources to have maximum impact in our communities. It is an art and I think we are more than up to the task.

So that’s what I have to say about programming. Now let’s move on to something else that is super-interesting: Moveable Type! I’m excited about the Type Truck coming to my neck of the woods. A letterpress in a truck! How amazingly awesome is that? I’m very much looking forward to the demonstrations. So check out if the Type Truck is coming to your area and let me know what you think.

That’s all from me today, dear readers. I hope the rest of your day goes swimmingly and you have a relaxing evening. I’ll be back on Friday with more. Allons-y!

Librarians, students, and the Future

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely day. I can hardly believe we are to the middle of another week and I’m off on another research trip to the archives. So today, I just want to talk a bit about some of the stuff buzzing around the bibliosphere right now and leave you with some tasty recipes for your tea breaks.

So if you have been hanging around the blogosphere at all this week, you’ve probably already read Seth Godin’s, Future of the Library article. And hopefully you’ve also read the very well-written and balanced response by Agnostic, Maybe. I just have a few comments to make about Godin’s article that will hopefully not duplicate everything that’s already been written and why I think it is just as important for academic librarians to pay attention to what Godin wrote as it is for public librarians.

Yes, of course, Godin got some stuff about librarians and libraries wrong (in my opinion). Libraries are still needed, freely accessible resources are definitely needed, and the digital divide is still a real problem. But on the whole, Godin got it correct and some of his misconceptions about libraries can be chalked up to the failure of librarians and the library profession in general in marketing our services and resources.

Now some librarians do an excellent job in outreach and marketing efforts, but on the whole, we obviously don’t do enough. If we did, Godin (along with the majority of people) would realize that libraries subscribe to many online resources and databases that have the ability to blow Wikipedia out of the water and are able to make researching more efficient and effective. It’s not that we don’t have the resources, it’s that we don’t make people aware of them. I see this in my own library and in classes I teach where the instructor will tell me after that s/he had no idea we offered so much or could help in so many ways.

This ties into my last post about caring. We have to demonstrate that we care about our users and market our services, resources, and general awesomeness as librarians in ways that our users, be they a public library user or an undergrad in an academic library, find relevant. We are the awesome teachers, info curators, guides, and sages that Godin says we are and can be, but we need others to “get it.”

So instead of saying how Godin got it wrong, let’s use his post as a call to (more) action. He got some parts wrong, but so do most writers and people. His main message, that we need to use our talents to connect people with information to create value is right on the mark. I think that having people honestly write what they think about the future of the library and librarians is fantastic, especially by people outside of the profession. This makes us take a hard look at what we’re doing right and what we can improve on if we read such articles with an open mind and with an open heart looking towards improving ourselves and services instead of being defensive when obviously our message as librarians is not as clear, or as powerful, as some of us believe it to be. We need to become, in Godin’s words, a purple cow–something remarkable. I’m working everyday to make my work and interactions with people remarkable, are you?

Okay, that’s my two cents.

I just wanted to share one link from Lifehacker today on how clean up your digital life and manage information overload. Great article as always. Share it with your library users. They’ll thank you.

And finally, for some tasty fun, check out Joy the Baker’s post on love and sugar recipes. These are fabulous and, if all else fails in your marketing campaign for the awesomeness of librarians, bake ’em cookies. Everyone is a fan of cookies.

Have a great rest of your day, help someone out, read something lovely, and I’ll be back on Friday with some tech stuff to share with your friends (family, library users, students, etc.). Allons-y!

Work, Work, Work

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone is having a lovely day. I can’t believe it is already May and it seems like we’ve gone straight from winter to summer here in the Bay Area. Today I just want to share a few links to help you at work or rather to help you do and feel better at work.

I decided today would be a good day to share these links because:

  1. I presented with three other awesome archivists on Saturday at the Society of California Archivists’ Conference on networking and employment, so it’s kind of on my mind. And, I’m sorry to report that the panel wasn’t taped for webcasting. I’ve got to get back into the habit of taping my talks for podcasting, but that’s neither here nor there.
  2. There have been a lot of useful and inspiring posts over the last week or so about work.

First, if you don’t already read Seth Godin’s blog or books, you should at least give his work a try. I find all of his work to be quick reads and very useful for giving me a swift kick in the pants to start doing valuable work. His post yesterday on Hard Work vs. Long Work is a great example. I love that his posts are usually short, pithy, and are like a little daily pep talk on getting out there and getting things done.

Lifehacker, of course, does not fail to deliver some good advice articles. I love this reminder to stay positive to boost your career. (Plus, it gives my officemate and me an excuse for our unrepentant optimism!) Lifehacker has a great summary on how to get respect at work (and you can read the full article over on the Art of Manliness and yes, it works for people who don’t want to be manly, too).

If you have any tips or advice for enjoying your work and being productive, please let me know in comments. I’m always interesting in hearing what works for other people.

And to end, check out this cool video of Festo’s AquaJelly robots:

Have a lovely rest of your day and I’ll be back on Friday (hopefully) with a report from the BayNet talk by Lee Rainie from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Allons-y!