Friday Design: Blind Date with a Book

Happy Friday, dear readers, and Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a lovely day and get some chocolate, if you like it, and have something fun planned for the weekend. Today, fittingly, I want to talk about a Valentine’s Day tradition at my library and many others, Blind Date with a Book.

Blind Date with a Book is a fun event where we wrap books and place book blurbs in hearts on their covers so people can check out a “blind date” and give a book a chance before judging by its cover. This is the third year we’ve been doing the event and it seems to get more popular every year. We’re already almost out of books!

So what does this have to do with design?

As with any book display, you need to have a sign to let people know what’s up. (I like to call them mini-posters because that just sounds more fun for designing.) While some people may remember the event from last year, for many people it is their first time seeing the display so clarity in how to participate in Blind Date with a Book is essential.

We had to update our instructions this year because we’re putting the review slip in the books and the mini-poster below is the result.

flyer for Blind Date with a Book event

Simple, on-theme, and clear, this design will draw people’s eyes and also make it easy for them to figure out what all the wrapped books are about. I created it using both Adobe Spark and Photoshop, but you could could use whatever design program you like best including Publisher and Gimp.

Because this event only runs for 2 weeks, putting hours of effort into the mini-poster is not possible. Instead I found a stock photo that I liked and decided to use a color ribbon over it so the text is easy to read. It’s a graphic design trick that’s used often because it works so well for so many design needs. I pulled the pink color from the stock photo, changed the opacity so the photo could still be seen and laid the type over in a center alignment as there isn’t a lot of text and many romantic things (think wedding invitations, engagement announcements, etc.) often use center alignment.

I used the same pink color for the solid block of color at the top where I have the title. I used the font, Timberline, for the title because it looks handwritten and romantic and has the brush-lettering feeling that is having a moment right now. I used Gabriola for the instruction text as it has some rhythm to the flow of the letters and is also slightly romantic.

A finishing touch of adding drop shadows to the color ribbon overlay and the photo gave a bit of subtle depth before it was off to print.

This mini-sign’s layout can be adapted for other projects and the colored ribbon is a great design trick to remember when you want to overlay text on top of an image.

I hope this example helps and provides some inspiration for your next design project.

Have a lovely weekend and I’ll be back soon with another design example and tips. Allons-y, friends!

Friday Design: Simple Workshop Flyer

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope the week has treated you well and you have something wonderful to look forward to this weekend. I am looking forward to a nap and perhaps some time to practice my calligraphy. But before we get to the weekend, it is time for a bit of Friday Design. Today, I want to share a simple-to-design workshop flyer that you can easily adapt.

At my library, we run a research workshop series every term. And we are always looking for new ways to promote and market our workshop series. Luckily, we have a student assistant with amazing lettering skills who hand-letters a sandwich board sign for us each week (more on that in another post). But we also need ways of advertising that make it easy for instructors to share the information with their students and for us to print and post around the library and share at service desks.

To that end, I created the simple flyer you see below and am going to walk you through some key points that you can use to quickly create and easily convey information to your library users.

simple workshop flyer, design elements discussed in blog post text

First things, first: it’s in black and white. Being mindful of your budget is always important and being able to print in black and white is super helpful to keep costs low and administrators happy. If you can print in color, great. But if not, you can still create a great flyer that is eye-catching.

The key to arranging a lot of information (an entire semester’s worth of workshops) onto one letter-sized flyer is alignment. The alignment used here is simple and consistent and I’ve shown this design trick before. All the information is aligned as you see credits in movies. The information on the left side (Months and Dates) is right aligned, while the information on the right side (workshop names) is left aligned against a center guideline with a small amount of padding to separate the information and make it legible. Notice that the title of the workshop series is even aligned to this guideline. Remember, consistency is key for alignment looking professional and eye-catching.

Time, place, and more information, including a link to our events calendar, are all aligned in the same way. This consistency makes it easy for library users to find the information they need about our workshops.

I used three icons on the bottom to illustrate concepts from our workshops and found these icons on one of my favorite icon sites, https://www.flaticon.com/. There is a great selection to use and many can be used, with attribution, for free.

Finally, I added our library logo to the bottom right corner of the page. This brands the flyer and let’s users know it is from our library. Having the logo in the bottom right corner also makes it the last thing most users see when they read the flyer as our eyes naturally end in this corner (just think of reading from left to right and top to bottom in English).

From start to finish, the flyer took about 30 minutes to create. This type of flyer can be easily made in Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign. And the basic format of hanging the information off a central guideline like movie credits can be repurposed for many different designs. It’s great for informational brochures, bookmarks, and handouts, too.

I hope this flyer has sparked some inspiration for you to go and create some simple and useful flyers for your library. Let me know what you’ve created; I’d love to see it.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, full of inspiration, relaxation, and joy. I’ll be back soon with more design tips. Allons-y, friends!

Friday Design: Little Things Matter

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that the week has been kind, you’ve been able to create lovely things, and you have a wonderful weekend in front of you. This week has been busy (when is it not?) and I’m looking forward to seeing some family and taking some naps this weekend. But first, I want to share a piece of advice that I’m sure you’ve heard before: little things matter.

Little things matter, whether we are talking about design, work, friendship, or life. Saying hello, remembering to ask after a coworker’s family, sharing a treat, or taking care even with ephemeral things. Little things matter. For today’s design advice, I’m talking about the little things of matching colors.

We’re coming to the end of Banned Books Week and although we didn’t have time to put together a big display, I still wanted to have something up in the library by our Popular Reading Collection to remind students about the continued attempts to ban books from libraries. Luckily I had buttons already made, but need to make a couple of mini-posters to supplement the great information from ALA’s website.

I created and printed the simple, but eye-catching mini-poster below and was ready to install it when I noticed something wrong. Do you see it?

banned books week flyer showing color of text not matching rest of flyer

The text was a dark navy versus black. I quickly changed it to black so it would match and reprinted the mini-poster below.

banned books flyer with text matching color of icon on flyer

In this case, the little thing that mattered was ensuring I kept a consistent color scheme for the mini-poster. Would anyone have noticed the difference in color? Perhaps not consciously, but subconsciously they’d feel that something was not quite right. Making this change makes the mini-poster more polished and professional, which is what I hope we all want our libraries’ communications to be.

So next time you are designing, take a moment to pause and review your work with a critical and caring eye to ensure you have the little things right. Oh, and always support the freedom to read.

I’ll be back with more news and notes. Until then, have a lovely week. Allons-y!

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!