Teaching Graphic Design as Part of Information Literacy

Hello, dear readers! I know it has been a while. It feels like it has been a lifetime. This year feels like it has been a lifetime, right? So let’s just pick up where we left off and talk about design for a bit because that is more fun that talking about how we are going to prepare for spring semester as the pandemic continues, right? Right.

Oh, this has been a busy semester. All semesters are busy, but this one has seemed particularly fraught. I think because I’m bone-weary tired most of the time. It is just a lot for everyone and I’m feeling it. Are you? I’m sending you all the virtual hugs and good vibes and care. We all need some extra support and kindness and empathy now, I think.

One of the highlights of this semester though has been my opportunity to talk to a variety of student groups about graphic design. It has been wonderful and fun even though it has been through Zoom. Though, luckily, as almost all of my graphic design work happens via the computer, it isn’t a hardship demoing and teaching through Zoom (as long as the internet connection holds).

One of the most fun classes I did this semester was talking to two sections of a Health Sciences course on how to apply graphic design principles to their policy memos they are creating in their teams. It was a great opportunity to discuss graphic design basics and show them how to apply the basics to creating visually appealing and impactful memos—plus demoing how even something like Google Slides could be used to create an awesome memo collaboratively. The students really seemed to enjoy it and the professor was extremely happy with the sessions, remarking how useful all the information was and how they were going to incorporate some of it into their rubrics for the memos (as well as use the information to make their newsletter better, too).

So often, it can feel like I’m sending my work into a void, not knowing if I’m having any impact or if what I’m sharing is appreciated or needed. But teaching always brings me back to why I love graphic design and sharing graphic design with others and how it can form a bridge between me and students and hopefully between them and the library. To me graphic design is an important and integral part of information literacy so I’m always excited to share it and show how it makes a difference in our lives and how it can assist us in getting our message across.

I just wanted to share that with you and also share one tip that you can easily share with anyone who is at the beginning of their design journey: when in doubt, don’t center your text. Left or right alignment is better for flow and movement. Resist the temptation. That’s my PSA for the day.

I hope that you have something lovely and relaxing to inspire and recharge yourself this week. I will try to be back again with more musings on design and the library. Until then, be well, my friends. Allons-y, friends!

Friday Design: Infographic Handout

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope this first week of March has been kind to you, that you are staying healthy and not panicking, and finding time to create things that inspire you. Today I want to share an infographic handout I recently created and some takeaways that may help you with your next infographic project.

I am lucky to be co-teaching an information literacy class this semester with colleagues and our focus is on science communication. The class has been a blast so far, the students are engaged and the discussions have been great. Their final project is to create an infographic. Since modeling can be a very useful teaching tool, I thought why not create an infographic explaining what the students need to do to create their final project? Below is the resulting infographic.

Infographic providing directions on how to create an infographic for a final research project

So what are the takeaways for us as librarian graphic designers?

Have fun! It is easy to forget this, but so important to remember when designing. Our designs are important and often on serious topics, but when we can we should have fun and our designs can reflect this. The point of this infographic was to share the directions, timeline, and basic grading information to our students as well as model how an infographic can look and work. It needs to be friendly and clear so we don’t intimidate students who have never created infographics before and aren’t familiar with the form.

Consistency and Clear Hierarchy are Key: Consistency and information hierarchy are key in communicating clearly, which is the goal of this infographic. By clearly noting the starting point, using arrows (notice the arrow icons are reused throughout the graphic), and using simple directions, the reader can follow along easily and understand what they need to do to complete their infographic. While we often think of information hierarchy with using headings and titles/subtitles, we can also create it in a path-like structure as seen here as long as we have clear wayfinding points (the arrows) and discrete blocks of information.

I chose icons that shared characteristics (simple outlines, no changes in line width) to maintain consistency.  I also used the same two fonts throughout the infographic to maintain consistency and ease of reading. These fonts share characteristics with the icons that allow them to work well together.

The footer is set off from the main infographic with a darker shade of blue and contains credit information for the information and icons. Footers are a great way to communicate necessary information without drawing attention away from the main infographic. You can see this in many infographics, including those from Daily Infographic (I like checking out the infographics for inspiration).

I hope these quick tips are useful for creating your next infographic. There are so many free and low cost tools available now to create infographics that can be fun to use. Remember, too, that you can always create your own from scratch, too, using an application like Microsoft Publisher, InDesign, or Scribus. Have fun!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of relaxation and inspiration! I’ll be back soon with more graphic design news and notes from the library. Allons-y, friends!

Reading, OCLC, and Gadgets

Happy Monday! It is bright and sunny in the Bay Area and I am feeling very guilty about enjoying the day because it should be raining. Unlike other parts of the country, we really need it to rain here.

But enough about the weather, you are here for the techie and library related goodies! And I have some fun and some disturbing information to relay to you today.

I thought we better get the bad and disturbing information out of the way first: check out this analysis of the new OCLC policy. It sounds like member libraries could be negatively impacted by this new policy. I want to read the entire policy before adding to much to this discussion, but I think everyone should be aware of this coming change.

On to less disturbing news: online reading versus book reading–what is better? There is a lot of debate surrounding this question, especially as more and more of the information and services offered to students and patrons moves online. Check out a summary of research done on this very issue that says that there may be negatives to reading and learning online. I know this is a huge debate and there isn’t nearly enough research to say definitively whether online and print reading are equivalent in terms of cognition and comprehension levels. But I think it is a good idea to keep up on the research and discussion surrounding reading and learning as we spend resources and time on ebooks, online instruction and services.

Online reading works for me in small doses and for short periods of time, but I would never want to read the complete works of Foucault online. What do you think?

Now for the fun: you might have thought we were done with lists because, after all, it is January 12th, but no! Here is a list I just had to pass along: New Year’s Resolutions for Readers. I love this list; I find it inspiring and encouraging and will use it as a reason for my indulgence of reading more this year. So go forth and read; then let me know what books you liked–I’m always interested in what other people are reading.

Lastly, I couldn’t have another post without talking about some technology. Here is Wired’s list of 12 Good Gadgets for Hard Times. It is a thought-provoking list (as shown by the massive amounts of comments on the article, some of which are entertaining and others of which are not very nice). I think it is always interesting to see what someone else thinks are the go to gadgets. I have to say, after living in South America, I’ve got to agree with the hand-crank radio, multi-tool and some kind of water filtration unit. A solar powered or hand-crank laptop would be icing on the cake. Remember, don’t let technology rule your life or your work, make it be a tool that works for you.

Have a great rest of your Monday, see you again later this week!

Videos, Secure Data and Napping

Happy Monday!

So my library isn’t even open to the public yet (we open at 10am as we are between terms right now) and it is going to be a pretty dead day around here. Which means, of course, lots of work will get done-thus it is a happy (work) Monday.

So, why would it be a happy Monday for you? Because, faithful reader, I have a trio of resources and articles to inspire you to protect your data, make YouTube videos and, well, nap. So without further ado:

First up is this article on students using YouTube videos for help with classes. And, no, I’m not talking about those horrible videos on how to cheat. This article talks about how students watch videos on math problems, biology concepts and physics in order to learn. Yes, they learn on YouTube. This is just great, really! I use YouTube videos in my classes on information literacy all the time and I’ve seen some library videos up on YouTube, but I think it is a place where there is a lot of untapped potential for librarians to populate the YouTube sphere with great library videos. I mean, we’ve already got the vlogbrothers on our side. If you have no clue who the vlogbrothers are, please click the previous link and find out.

Speaking of retaining what you learn, check out this article on how napping helps memory. Yes, we should have students watch YouTube videos and then nap so they retain the information and can think of new ways of using the information they have now retained. I am totally for napping; we need to institute napping during the work day.

And, in order to keep your data secure, while you are napping or otherwise, check out Lifehacker’s guide to the top 10 ways to lock down your data. This is very important stuff. No one wants to be the poor person who loses the confidential company data. So do yourself a favor, and lock down your data.

As a bonus, just for fun because this is probably the last post before I leave on vacation, check out John, of the vlogbrothers talking about his library and other fun stuff.

Enjoy, happy Monday, and happy holidays!

Why I Teach

Hi. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I feel rested and ready to take on the rest of the quarter.

Okay, so while I don’t have any great technology sites to share today. I thought I would just continue on the optimism theme and explain why I teach. Now the obvious answer is I teach because it is part of my job description and I have to. Well, yes, but that doesn’t really answer why I teach. I teach information literacy to freshmen which can sometimes be trying at best and life-draining at worst.

Today reaffirmed for me why I teach. I just had my focus group for my class. I am trying to figure out ways to improve the class and how the students see the class. The data is completely worthless for extrapolation, but still interesting. My best students came–thus I cannot extrapolate out even to the rest of my class. But they did reaffirm why I teach. I teach to try to reach the students, help them, inform them, give them the ability to have power over the flow of information in their lives, but really, I teach because of my engaged top-tier students. I teach for the students that take what they’ve learned to the next level, who take pride in their work, who truly learn to learn and really want more.

These students want more knowledge, they want more power and they want more out of life. These are the students that give me the energy to slog through the papers that are turned in late, that are turned in by students who obviously ignored the directions and who could care less about the class and who have a glazed over look no matter what we do in class.

I try to lift up all my students. I teach so that they can improve and learn and grow. I pull them kicking and screaming into active learning, into collaboration with others in the class, and into participating online. But that can be draining. My students that actually see that one can have fun and learn from anything are the ones who I teach for.

My students today ended with the suggestion that we have another library class. They actually wanted another class in their college career–later when they were in upper division classes in their disciplines. Really! They thought the class was helpful. They loved the YouTube videos, they liked the quotes used in class, they enjoyed helping others with their new knowledge and even saw the use of learning citations! How can one not feel blessed to have students like this in class? And I have more than one!

This, friends, is why I teach. Because these are the students that are going to change the world, one little step at a time. These are the students that make the time, the energy, the blood and the tears worth it. They are why I teach.

Tangentially, can I just say I am super-proud of my students? I am. Check out their online presentations here Library 1210 Presentations. These are presentations of the most interesting parts of their research projects. My students have made me proud.

Like the bumper sticker I picked up in Monterey says: “Those who can, do. Those who can do more, teach.”

Friday Stuff and Such

I’m terrible with titles–doesn’t matter what kind–blog post titles, subject lines of emails, titles for term papers, theses–I just wasn’t made to name things. Luckily, or hopefully, my writing makes up a little for the lack of skill with titling things.

Well, it is Friday and yes, it means some random thoughts about trying to help and improve the library, yourself, the world even maybe. When I was teaching on Tuesday, I used a quote by Ghandi, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” So yeah, I believe that by changing yourself and actions you can change the world. Where am I going with this?

Well, I read this great post by the Free Range Librarian, K.G. Schneider. Whose blog you should really subscribe to if you don’t already. It is insightful, funny and all the things that a blog should be. I love this post because peer-review might be broken, but publishing anonymous bloggers is not helping things, and I am sick of all the talk about the Annoyed Librarian too. It is way too easy to be pessimistic; it takes a lot more work to be optimistic and try to improve things when the economy is tanking and libraries are feeling the hit. But I would way rather be spending time improving things, be it trying to improve peer-review process or helping my students finally get how to apply information literacy concepts to their lives outside the university, than spend time complaining about it.

Here is a report from Pew Internet that talks about users having trouble with technology. This is nothing new, but I wanted to point it out so the next time you feel bad for not knowing the latest online game, just remember it only feels like everyone else knows about it. Most don’t and most people are still having trouble with basic technology stuff. Librarians are cutting edge–just remember that and remember it’s okay to still be learning. Just remember to take a deep breath when explaining something new to a patron. Not everyone is a techie, and that is okay.

And, it is a beautiful, sunny Friday morning. Enjoy your day, enjoy working with people and have a great Friday and weekend.

Oh and has anyone tried SlideRocket? It looks really cool and I need to play around with it. It’s an online presentation application. Anyway, just thought I’d check.


Alright, first off, a little bit on the elections before we get into the nitty-gritty library stuff. I promise I won’t get too into politics (but Rock on Obama!); I just wanted to share this great xkcd cartoon with you today. Seriously, go check out Election.

Now that you are back, let’s just admit it–everything we do is to further collaboration and connection. Humans are social creatures, no matter what people claim about being introverted. Yes, we differ on the level of social networking and interaction we want, but we are at our base social creatures. We want to connect and collaborate and this is where Web 2.0 tools come in so handy.

I found this blog post through Tame the Web and I too am hearting this post. Really, go check it out. Technology is just the means to connect and to reach out to others. We are using technology to recreate and re-invent public meeting spaces that are rapidly disappearing.

And last, but not least, here is an article from Educause about a phenomenon that fanfic writers have known about for years–collaborative work. These stories live online and many people contribute to them, respond, and comment on these stories. Storytelling is no longer limited to a few authors, but expanded to anyone who has an idea. Anyone can create something and post it on the web. And, no, I am not against everyone having a voice and I don’t think it is a crisis of quality of writing, reading, or any of that other stuff. Remixing, creativity, and passion live in this new world and if educators could harness the work that students do in this environment and transfer it to lessons and assignments in school, I think the results would be amazing.

Yes, I am unrepentant in my optimism about Web 2.0 applications, teaching and creative work. I believe that we can collaborate and connect online and in person because that is what we do. And as librarians, educators and blog readers we can all take part in these creative endeavors. Happy November 5th and rock on!

Streaming Media & Re-Tooling Library Services for Online Learners: IL2008

by Dale David, Anthony Bernier, Barbara Stillwell and Robin Lockerby

First part of the presentation: Barbara Stillwell and Robin Lockerby from National University Library

Because of increase in online education they created:
Centralized services
Added Multimedia Department

New Collaborative Spaces:
Email, IM service didn’t work for them, also VoIP

Library Instruction to Multimedia
Already had in-class instruction, added VoIP, recorded VoIP sessions so students could use them as National University has 1 month intensive classes

What’s next: want to increase quality of audio/video, increase production quality
What’s it great for: outreach, reaching more students

National University’s Multimedia Department
has graphic designer, multimedia designer and one librarian (QA librarian)
learned that it takes much longer to create products than most think, because of learning curve
Uses Adobe flash–takes a long time
Always see something more that could be done after you create a new module
Sometimes, it is better to have smaller videos, serialize information so the videos aren’t super-long

Be choosy about what format you use, not one format is the best for all uses (I would add, also always ask about accessibility before starting to use a new product. There is no point making something that isn’t accessible, IMHO)

Strength: professional design team (who can actually afford this, though?)
Weakness: professional design team has limited library exposure, different jargon
Opportunities: refining production workflows–have a sytle guide
Threats: conflicting goals and objectives

Take Home Message:
Online instruction through tutorials/modules are great, especially if you have a dedicated design team. But definitely remember that simpler is better if you are like most who don’t have a design team.

Streaming Media nad Distance Education: The SJSU SLIS Model
by: Dale David and Anthony Bernier from SJSU’s SLIS

Colloquial Series (extra-curricular) aka CS
Produced through a team
began in fall 2006
between 40-60minutes
available in many different accessible formats

Vision of CS
Broaden exposure to LIS world and community, outreach and marketing
Expose others to the cutting edge technology
Offers opportunity for continuing education

Filmed on-campus at SJ and at Fullerton
Include: faculty presenting research, part-time faculty, librarians, etc.

All is online, including listserv
Also through SJSU website

Can come in if you are in the area
Get undergrads come to the presentation
Usually between 12-25 people in physical audience
Online audience is quite large: around 275 unique hits on presentations

Technology used:
Digital Camera and mic set-up
Record in classroom on campus

Video editing
Incorporate any PowerPoint slides used, screencaps of websites go to during the presentation

Disseminate in different formats on the web
Including closed captioning (using SMILE)
Using RealPlayer because it was the legacy format
Offered in podcast, RSS feed, iTunes, Blip.tv (no time limits unlike YouTube)

Have an archive–everything is indexed, it is searchable, very nice

Take Home Message:
Great idea to have a colloquial series and even better idea to encode into many different formats. Many props for also making these accessible. I am so checking these out.

LOL @ Your Library: Live Online Learning: IL 2008

LOL @ Your Library: Live Online Learning
Paul DeVillo, Tom Cole and Dale Musselman
(all from PLCMC–Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenbury County)

Tool to meet changing needs of staff and customers

Demands of training and costs of training increasing. Always something new for technology, but patrons want us to show them everything and it is becoming impossible to keep up. New channel of communication needed. Librarians have to wear many hats and have many skills–reference, instruction, access, systems, etc.

If you have to go to different venues to train, it takes a lot of time and money. So if you learn online then less driving and we help the environment.

Videoconferencing and the library
Easy to see benefits
Reduced travel time, fuel use, and emissions, could reach out to people who didn’t use the library or couldn’t come to training that was far away
Costs: telepresence was out of their league, IT staff time, and bandwidth

Online conferencing was the solution for their library: space to share ideas, best for informing, little additional hardware needed. They bought software, but remember you can use free open source that Connie Crosby talked about yesterday. Got to love open source. 🙂

How you can use online conferencing:
Staff training, then meetings, then roll out to public offerings

Need high bandwidth
Need headsets with headphones and mic
Need a space that is fairly quiet for presenters
Recommended: VoIP enabled telephones

Always need to consider the needs of your audience! If you are pushing this to the public, do the patrons have the bandwidth to use the service? Do you make different presentations for different bandwidths? There will always be issues with any service, no matter how well you test and plan.

Consider the needs of your trainers and presenters
Hardware and software needs–sometimes different than for the audience
Needed versus actual skills–how do you overcome the skills gap
Producer role–handles technology, helps attendees, frees up trainer/presenter: aka the troubleshooter

VoIP: for webinars, large audience and low interaction
Phone Conference: meetings, small group, high interaction
VoIP & phone: flexible for webinars or training, beware of expense for large groups

Have people check out technology configuration before the session

Yes! Finally someone mentioned Section 508 compliance! Everyone should try to be 508 compliant–it is horrible to have library services and resources that are not accessible to everyone. (I am stepping off my soapbox now)

Remember to market your new online training services.

Take Home Message:
Online training can save travel time and cost, plus get to people that can’t physically get to a training site. But you need people (trainers, presenters and producers) that understand and have the skills to be training in the online environment.

Voting, who Cares about Voting?

Alright, so the post title might seem like it has nothing to do with information literacy, teaching, libraries, anything else I actually said I would discuss on this blog, etc. But actually, voting has everything to do with the mission of getting out information, empowering students and just trying to change the world.

This is an awesome, star-studded video talking about voting in a way that is sure to catch the attention of even the most apathetic student. Seriously, share it with all. And it is not too late to register to vote in California. Oh, and thanks to Judith for the link and agreeing that it makes a great discussion point for any talk about information and power.

After you are done watching this video, check out the Absentee Voter Guide from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. It is an interactive map with information on what is needed to vote absentee and links to all the forms necessary plus deadlines for applying.

Now you have no excuse–you can now rock the vote. And look–application of information literacy to current events and real life outside the classroom!