Friday Design: End of the Year Thoughts

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

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

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

photograph of hillside in New Zealand

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

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

[Shameless self-promotion following]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bits and Bobs

Happy Friday, dear readers! Do you ever feel like all you have to talk about are bits and bobs that somehow make sense in your brain, but don’t really seem to have a common thread that would make sense to anyone else? Yeah, this post is kinda like that. I just have a few things to share with you that may or may not be useful for you or your patrons, but they made sense to me, so I’m sharing them now.

I love books. No surprise there. I’m also a fan of adorable and useful infographics, so I had to share this one from BookPal. Yay, books!

Presented By BookPal

If you are trying to teach students that all websites that end in .edu, .org, or .gov are not necessarily great sources of up-to-date, accurate information, you might like this post from Gizmodo on a hidden treasure trove of dead .gov websites. Both fun to look at from a design/history standpoint and as a potential resource for teaching. Also, wow for some of those URLs.

As we get into the weekend, I felt like I had to share this Lifehacker article on the need to stop working on your day off. Like, really, just stop it and go out and do something fun. It will make you more productive at work, promise. I for one am looking forward to napping, reading some new books I just got from the library, and maybe even some baking this weekend. What are you looking forward to this weekend?

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of fun and relaxation. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting about graphic design and libraries. Hopefully you’ll find some of it useful. Allons-y!

Backing Up Data

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and you have a wonderful weekend planned. Today I want to just share some links to help with backing up your data as it is an important and often overlooked step in protecting your files. Plus, the archivist in me just couldn’t resist passing along a couple of articles that weren’t in archival literature about backing up data. So let’s get to it.

Lifehacker has a good article on why Dropbox shouldn’t be your sole backup. While the tale is scary, it is a good reminder to back up your data in multiple locations. Happily, external hard drive prices have decreased a lot over the past few years, which makes it even more affordable to back up your files.

On a similar note, Gizmodo reports on how it only takes one bozo to kill your cloud data. Another reason to not rely on one cloud service to backup your data. When it comes to making sure you can access your digital files, it truly does come down to lots of copies keep stuff safe (but only if you have lots of copies in multiple places). Also, this reminds me of the great xkcd cartoon:

the cloud cartoon by xkcd

“the cloud” by xkcd

Finally, this is an interesting and useful tip from Lifehacker on how to test new external hard drive by doing a secure erase. I’ll have to remember to try this when I get a new external hard drive.

Hopefully these tips (and cautionary tales) will persuade you and your patrons about the importance of backing up your data. How do you back up your data? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend full of all good things, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Teaching Digital History: Or, Out of My Comfort Zone

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week went well and you have a lovely weekend planned. Today I want to share some of my experiences from the last quarter, especially about being outside of my comfort zone in my teaching duties. This spring quarter I taught a digital history class that I had created for the history department for the first time and it was both completely fun and completely terrifying at the same time. Let me explain.

I was asked last year by the chair of our history department if I would like to create a digital history methods course. Of course, I said yes! After checking out as many digital history course syllabi as I could find online and digging through lots of literature I began to draw up a syllabus with input from the history chair. We wanted the course to combine theory and practice so the students would get an opportunity for hands-on work as well as getting a grounding in the theory of digital history and current discussions surrounding digital history. After a few iterations of the syllabus, we had a course that we thought would be good so we were able to put it forward to be approved for the next academic year. Happily, the approval process was fairly straightforward and we were on our way for having it taught this spring quarter.

I’ve taught for six years on campus, but I was totally terrified (and excited) to be teaching for the history department a brand new course with non-first year students. But after a bit of shuffling of students in the first few weeks of the course, we settled into the groove of the course and got into the discussions and work of the digital history project. After reviewing the students’ course evaluations, which were overwhelmingly positive, I can’t wait to see where the history department takes their digital history courses next. I just wanted to share a few thoughts about my experience and how it helps in all my work.

First Thought: Just because you are talking with someone in an allied field doesn’t mean they know or understand your field.

This was one idea that has really stuck with me after teaching a digital history course. I really wanted the course to be cross-disciplinary, so I challenged my students to read outside of their comfort zone of history articles and texts. We read articles in Science on using big data for research, library science articles, articles written by archivists studying historians, and more. Some of the students talked in class and wrote about how it really pushed them and was hard at first to understand these other fields. Many of the history majors talked about how they weren’t aware of what archivists did or that anyone was studying how historians used archives. It was really interesting for me to figure out how to translate research from different fields and get students excited to learn about things outside of the history field and see the interconnections that they could use as they go out and become teachers, public historians, etc.

Second Thought: Digital History is always changing so it’s okay to experiment, too

As anyone who works with me knows, I like to have plans and to be prepared for class before the quarter starts. I’m happy improvising up to a point, but winging an entire class doesn’t work for me. Happily, I found a middle ground with this class. While the main bones of the course were all settled before the term started so the students knew overall what to expect, we were able to experiment and improvise with parts of the course so that we could focus on issues that were of interest to the students. It was great to be able to pull in new online videos and articles into the class discussions and readings that would make our learning richer. Some sites didn’t work when we tried to use them in class, other sites seemingly disappeared. Sometimes things that looked easy from the help tutorials turned out to be crazy hard and other times things that looked hard turned out to be easy. Being open to experimentation is key, which leads me to my next thought.

Third Thought: Being uncomfortable is a part of learning and having a supportive environment allows us to work through it

Many of my students talked to me about their difficulties working through some of the new theory presented, some of the technical specifications we talked about, and trying to create online projects instead of writing a research paper. There were definitely moments of discomfort and stretching in class, but that is what learning is about. We have to challenge ourselves to keep learning, to find new ways to communicate history, and to find new ways of engaging with others. While learning may be uncomfortable at times, it was my job as the instructor to maintain a supportive environment for learning, for making mistakes, and for ultimately creating some awesome digital history projects.

My time teaching this course was an amazing experience. I learned a lot that I want to incorporate into my other courses and I hope that I have a chance to collaborate with our awesome history department and students some more in the future. So, I guess what I’m saying is that while the students may have been challenged, I was challenged, too, and learned so much. It was a tiring, fun, terrifying, and invigorating class and term. I can’t wait to see what the next academic year brings.

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

Paper and Thought

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are well and had a lovely week. We have finished up final exam week here on campus and it is just about time for quarter break and summer session. I love summer as it is a time to reflect, catch up, and generally get things done without being pulled a million different ways. Today I wanted to share some interesting articles on paper and thought, which may sound a bit odd since this is a blog, but I love paper and handwriting, as well as interesting studies, so I thought it may be of interest to some of you, too.

I thought this was an interesting summary on Lifehacker of some research about how we might consider taking notes by hand to remember information longer. This is something to keep in mind as people keep lugging laptops, phones, and tablets along to meetings to take notes instead of a notepad and pen. I seem to remember things I’ve handwritten better than those I’ve typed, so this works for me. I wonder what your experience is with paper versus digital notetaking.

In a similar vein, Wired has an article on reading on screen versus paper. This is especially relevant to teachers and librarians as many of us have mandates to buy more ebooks and etextbooks at our libraries, which may be a boon for some students, but not for others. I think it will be very interesting to see where we go with paper books versus digital books in the coming years. Do you have a preference for reading on screen versus on paper? I love the convenience of ebooks, especially when traveling, but prefer paper when I’m using a book for research or am curled up reading at home.

Finally, for fun, check out this lovely flowchart by Derangement and Description, “Will Digitization Solve My Problem?”. I think all archivists, librarians, and others involved in digitization projects can relate to this. I think about this a lot when I’m trying to explain the true scope of digitization projects to people on campus.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers! I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Maps and Tea for Friday

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week is going well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I apologize for not posting anything on Tuesday; I’ve had a cold all week and have been slower than usual in my work. So today, we have a mix of fun in the forms of maps and tea, with a useful bit of news thrown in. So let’s get to it.

I really love traveling, not flying, but traveling and so I quite liked looking at these 20 awesome stickers from when your suitcase told stories. Makes me want to start planning a trip already.

And although this map won’t help me with planning a trip abroad, it is still a wonderfully detailed map of the internet. It reminds me a bit of the maps created by xckd and are just lovely, too.

Speaking of maps, I am rather partial to this map of world’s biggest tea drinkers. We in the United States need to do better with our tea consumption. I always enjoy traveling in countries that drink a lot of tea as it is always easy to get a good cup of tea. And also, in tea news, I just wanted to share the link to the online home of one of my favorite tea shops, Tealuxe. Massive thanks to my friends still in Boston who keep me stocked with my favorite teas!

And, finally, because we should have a bit of useful tech news, the classic Bic pen now works on your smartphone. I think this is just a lovely combination of the physical and digital worlds, even if it is a bit pricey. Very nifty.

So I’m going to go now and hope that my voice doesn’t give out while teaching and then go drink lots of tea with honey this weekend. I wish you all the best, dear readers, and will be back next week. Allons-y!

Grab Bag of Tips for Friday

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe that we’ve finished up a week in November already? I can’t. Anyway, today’s post is a grab bag of tips and interesting reports that I wanted to share today. No real theme other than I thought these were interesting and/or useful and wanted to share.

This Lifehacker article is both useful and something you could do this weekend: how to make your entire internet life more secure in one day. Always good to be up on internet security.

For a couple of reports that I recently read (and really enjoyed), I thought I’d share California Digital Library’s CDL Strategic Themes and CDL Annual Report 2012-2013. I’m super-biased when it comes to the CDL and the OAC because I’ve never had anything but good experiences with the people there, our university archives is part of the OAC, and I really just think they are doing an awesome job at all their programs and are super-generous with sharing and helping out other, smaller institutions (like ours). So it was great to read a couple of documents that were easy to understand and outlined both accomplishments and goals for the coming year. I can’t wait to see what else gets rolled out and am looking forward to getting more of our archival documents into the OAC in the coming year. Nice work CDL.

I thought this was a nice article on 3 mental tricks to deal with people who annoy you. We all get annoyed, but these are some ways to at least downgrade the annoyance.

Also, because I really do enjoy being productive and getting things done, I wanted to share this infographic on how to productive. It’s quite a lovely infographic and distills a lot of very good advice into one easy to read graphic (which I know is the point of all infographics, but this one actually works).

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

Technology and Traveling

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has been productive and that you’ve been able to fit in a bit of fun. Today I have a few articles on technology and traveling that I thought were useful. I know we are just about the end of the high season for summer travel (for the Northern Hemisphere), but holiday travel will be upon us before we know it. So it is always good to keep up on travel and technology tips.

This article on the price of air travel by Freakonomics I think is a very interesting read. I’m not sure what one should do with the information in the article, but I was thinking about this article a lot when I was stuck in the airport a few weeks ago and all the planes in the terminal I was in were delayed for multiple hours. If nothing else, I think the article reminds us to be prepared for delays when flying.

On a more actionable note, check out Lifehacker’s article on how to protect yourself from apps that make wi-fi hacking simple. Good to know before traveling and using wi-fi.

I also quite like this graphic that shows how to keep your browsing, email, and chats private. We’ve all been hearing a lot about various surveillance programs, so you may want some ways to keep more of your information private. As we all know, the only way to keep something totally private is not to tell anyway, but since we need to communicate digitally a lot now, it is nice to know how to keep our conversations more private.

I leave you with this awesome comic from xkcd to make your day a bit brighter:

birds and dinosaurs by xkcd

birds and dinosaurs by xkcd

Have a wonderful rest of your day and lovely weekend. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!

Tech Tips for Friday

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely week and have a lovely weekend planned. Today I just want to share a few articles with tech tips to help you and for you to share with others.

As anyone who has read this blog for a bit knows, I’m at least slightly interested in productivity. I really liked this article from Lifehacker on 4 lies you tell yourself about productivity and how to stop them. I always enjoy articles that tell me not only what may be a problem, but also how to fix the problem. Also, pro tip, huge fan of single tasking. I get so much more done, in less time, and with less stress than when trying to multitask.

Are you a fan of the cloud? I am, especially for backup storage when I’m working on projects and since I probably work on around 4 different computers on any given day. I’m also a fan of privacy and keeping my documents private until I want to have them shared. So this article on the best cloud storage services that protect your privacy is of great use to me and I hope you, too.

Also, why do services have to continually change their user interface? I just don’t get it. So if you use Gmail, check out this post about how Gmail has new ads that look like emails; here’s how to turn them off. Take back your inbox!

Finally, for something empowering, hop on over to Ink and Vellum to read I am a Librarian. It’s just lovely.

I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day and I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!

Quick Email Tips

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! Just wanted to share some quick tips for email that have come through my feeds that are especially important to those who use Gmail.

Check out Lifehacker’s article on how to get the delete button back in the new Gmail for Android. Very important for those who like to read email (and clear inboxes) while on the go.

Also, I think this is a really great summary article by Lifehacker on Everything you need to know about Gmail’s new, super-confusing layout. Why do companies insist on changing layouts when things are working? I just don’t get it.

Also, while not strictly about email, this is a good, resource-filled article on the top 10 computer tricks every geek should know.

Finally, I got a laugh out of this article and if you are also into educational technology, you probably will, too: 33 signs you are an EdTech nerd.

Have a wonderful rest of your day. Allons-y!

p.s. Also, just a reminder that Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st, so check out Lifehacker’s best alternatives round-up article on what you need to do to make sure you can continue to read your feeds using another service.