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Type and Design

February 27, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely week and are managing to stay healthy. The cold and flu are going around our library so I’m hoping you’ve been spared. Today I want to share some articles and such about type and design–two of my favorite topics.

I love typography; that’s no secret. But what I really love is good typography and unexpected, but amazing uses of typography. I love books on typography and I’m one of those people who can definitely spend hours looking for the perfect font to use in a project. I’m also one of those readers who is driven bonkers when a book doesn’t include a note about which font was used in setting the type, but that is really neither here nor there.

What is important is that for those times when we don’t want to take hours looking at fonts or deciding how to set type, there are handy cheatsheets and guidelines. I quite like this infographic on the design rules for text. Learning these tips will set you well on your way to artfully combining fonts and communicating well textually on everything from business cards to posters.

Type, when used well, can trigger emotions and moods in the viewer and help you engage library users, so it is important for librarians to understand at least the basics of typography. Plus, it is just a lot of fun and you can amaze people when you talk about kerning and leading and whether you are a fan of slab serifs or not. (Well, maybe not amaze people, but you will be able to talk coherently with designers and know what to consider the next time you design with text.)

While typing on a computer may be a quicker way to write a note (and almost essentially for designing graphics for the library), there is nothing better than receiving a handwritten note. I think everyone should always have with them a pen they like for writing and for encouraging more writing throughout the day. I love this post from The Well-Appointed Desk on the Top 5 Pens under $5. This is a great, fairly inexpensive way to branch out and write with something other than the last free pen that you got from a vendor. :)

I had to share probably the best resume design I’ve ever seen: top-secret resume. Getting a resume that was that thoughtfully designed would be a huge improvement over many that I’ve seen. Plus, super-fun.

Finally, because it is almost the weekend and I think weekends should involve sweet things, I wanted to share Joy the Baker’s recipe for extra nutty dark chocolate fudge brownies. They look so scrumptious that I might have to bake them this weekend.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend full of things that make you smile. I’ll be back soon with some more news and notes. Allons-y!

Graphic Design and Librarians: ONW Recap and Some Links

February 20, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely week and have a great weekend planned. Today I want to share a quick recap of my experience last week at the fabulous Online Northwest Conference and some links to some tools and articles related to my talk subject: graphic design.

I have a fond spot in my hear for Online Northwest. It was the first conference where I had a proposal accepted after I became a librarian and I think it is a great one day conference. After attending that first conference, I hadn’t been back in years due to budget issues for professional development, etc. So I was excited to make it back this year to speak on a topic near and dear to my heart: graphic design in libraries. I was thrilled that so many people came to my talk and I got some great feedback. If you’d like to see my slides they are here and my resource list is here. I apologize if the slides don’t make a lot of sense. I practice my talks a lot before giving them, but never write out an entire script.

I’m working on some research and other talks on graphic design currently, so expect to see some more information here soon. In other graphic design news, I wanted to share this interesting article on 8 cities that have their own distinctive fonts. I’m quite a fan of Berkeley’s Rennie Mackintosh font.

If you are into design, you’ll probably enjoy viewing the slideshow on 36 visual content creation tools especially if you are looking for a new tool to play with in your next design.

Also, Lifehacker’s post on what creative professionals do that separate them from the amateurs is well worth a read. There are good ideas here even if your job isn’t designated as “creative” or it isn’t your entire job.

I hope you have fun designing some new things for your library or redesigning some old. I’d love to see your designs, so drop me a line in the comments below. Until next time, I hope you have a lovely weekend full of things that delight and inspire you. I’ll be back soon. Allons-y!

Books and Letter Writing

February 6, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I just wanted to share a few pieces of news with you before we all head out of the office and into the glorious weekend. I rather hope that it is a wet weekend here as we’ve had no rain the past month and are still uncomfortably in a drought, but enough of that…to the books!

It never ceases to make me happy when I see a positive article about books in a magazine that is not dedicated to librarians. So I was rather happy to see this article, Paper Books Will Never Die, on Gizmodo. I love paper books, our overflowing bookcases at home attest to that, and am glad to see someone else writing about their love of the printed word, too.

Also in the realm of all things on paper and in print, this month is National Letter Writing Month! Are you excited? I certainly am and look forward to the excuse to send out letters and cards to family and friends for the rest of the month. Not that I need much excuse. I love writing and receiving cards. A dear friend and I have had a letter correspondence for almost 7 years since we live on opposite coasts and seeing her letters in my mailbox always makes me smile. Also, wonderful excuse to buy more stationery.

Not about printed books, but about books nonetheless, is this article, Google’s Slow Fade With Librarians. Wonderful read from Jessamyn West. Librarians always remember.

And, while not something related to books and letter writing, I had to share the Top 10 Lifehacker Posts of All Time. Because, really, who doesn’t want to read some good life hacking tips? Gives you more time for reading!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, dear readers. Remember to make time to read, no matter what format you choose, and time too send someone a note to let them know you care. I’ll be back soon. Allons-y!

Designing in the New Year

January 16, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely week and are looking forward to an even better weekend. I managed to get a cold, but am recovering and looking forward to a relaxing and rewarding weekend. But before we get there, I want to share some ideas and resources for designing in this new year. “Designing in the New Year” could mean so many things: interior design in our libraries and homes, designing more effective time management in our unending work-life balance struggles, website design as we throw out the old and bring on the new, and so on. Today, I want to talk a bit about graphic design and libraries and share some fun resources I’ve come across.

To get you in the mood for a bit about graphic design and libraries, I highly recommend looking through 50 best images on books, reading, and libraries. These are lovely pieces of design and quite wonderful. They should make you smile and everyone could use a smile on a Friday. I’m totally with the reader: “Yeah, so what if I rather read than go to a bar? Deal with it.” That is totally me. Also, these sayings and designs make me want to design something new for my library, too!

I may be on a design kick this year as my research time finally opened up (or so I thought) so I would have time to look into librarians and graphic design. Many other research projects have also come up this year, already, but I’m not giving up on my design research because librarians design all the time and I’m rather interested in it all. I mean, look around any library and you can see dozens of handouts, bookmarks, flyers, event posters, newsletters, and webpages. There are so many examples of graphic design in libraries and very often librarians, who have a dozen other duties to do, turn into de facto graphic designers for their libraries. So if we are designing stuff for our libraries, which can be both a joy and a burden, let’s at least design some nifty things.

So this year, expect some more posts about design in libraries, specifically graphic design, on this blog as I work through my research and some fun examples, too. For now though I just want to share some fun icon sets. Because, really, it’s time to step away from the clip art, put down the Comic Sans, and get into the big leagues with our designs. So go check out these two icon sets available via Smashing Magazine: free Dashel Icon set and free tourism and travel icon set. So fun! Doesn’t it just make you want to create something?

I’ll be back next week with some more news and notes. Oh, and if anyone is coming to Online Northwest in February–and I do hope you do– I’ll be there and presenting on graphic design. I’m in the first session, so stop on by my talk and say hi. Allons-y!

A Turtle and a Reference Desk

January 15, 2015

Happy Thursday, dear readers! Just a short post today on one of the weirdest and best experiences I’ve had at the reference desk so far in my time as a librarian. Yesterday afternoon I was on the desk and had a student come over and tell me that there was a turtle walking by the windows in our first floor study area. My reaction was, “Really? A turtle?” And she said yes so what’s a reference librarian to do, but leap into action by getting a box and going turtle wrangling.

Luckily, it was an adorable little one who easily fit into the box. (And we decided was more of a tortoise than a turtle.)

Photo of Turtle in the Library

Turtle in the Library

But what to do now that we had the little one? No one answered in the affirmative when I asked students who were studying close by where we found the turtle so it was off to my colleagues in Access Services who usually have the answer to everything. Our Access Services Manager was up for making, as a colleagues wrote, “Best.Announcement.Ever.” over our PA system and asking if anyone had lost a pet turtle to come to the desk and describe the turtle so we could return him.

Happy ending to the story, the owner rushed over after hearing the announcement and the turtle found his way home, leaving us all to wonder, why did she have a turtle in the library in the first place?

Just another day at the reference desk. Allons-y!

Surveys and Civility

January 9, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good first full week of 2015. I have to say it has been hard to get back to work after a lovely holiday break, especially when it feels like going from zero to sixty without any warm-up. Today I just want to talk a bit about survey research and civility as it has been on my mind as I’ve been talking with friends and doing research. So let’s get to it.

As I’m in a faculty librarian role, I’m expected to do research. Luckily, I quite like research and sharing research results with others so I’m not here to complain about doing research, far from it. Most of my research, too, has not involved surveys, but instead interviews and archival research. However, sometimes, like many researchers, I need to use a survey to gather data for my research or to recruit potential interviewees. And that means, often, sending out a call on a listserv (or many listservs, depending) hoping that people will, out of the goodness of the hearts, take the time to complete a survey. And, happily, many often do, for which I’m grateful and I try to return the favor by completing surveys when they come over listservs and I can write to whatever topic/questions the researcher is studying with the survey. By and large, I’ve had good luck with my surveys, getting useful responses and finding many people to interview for various projects, but it has also raised a couple of questions for me.

Two questions: 1. Why does anyone feel the need to go through a survey and tell a researcher their questions are stupid? and 2. Why complete the survey if you feel that way or feel you have nothing to contribute?

I’m at a loss for the motives behind those two behaviors. All the participation calls for surveys I’ve seen on the listservs clearly state what the survey is about and who the researcher is hoping will complete the survey. No one is forcing anyone to complete the survey. Also, it is just plain rude to be nasty on someone’s survey, even if you feel the questions could have been worded better or the data collected differently. I’ve been told before that my questions are horrible and should be multiple choice, etc.. Clearly those people stating that never considered that multiple choice questions wouldn’t answer my research questions or would bias the responses or that you can only run statistical tests on data collected in specific manners to be valid.

So the need to be petty and mean on an anonymous survey absolutely baffles me.

Happily though, those encounters are few and far between and the majority of people are incredibly sweet and kind in sharing their stories, experiences, and knowledge with us researchers. And I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to anyone who has ever completed a survey I’ve sent over a listserv and/or agreed to be interviewed. You are the reason that we are able to continue adding to the research base of our profession and the reason that I continue to put my work out into the wilds of the internet and professional literature, even though I sometimes get caught off guard when reading through responses.

So all I’m really saying is try to be helpful and kind to researchers when you are taking a survey. And, if the survey doesn’t apply to you–or offends your idea of proper survey design–don’t respond. Civility is something we could all use more of in this world and something we all appreciate.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful start to your new year and I’ll be back next week with some more news. Allons-y!

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely end to 2014 and a lovely start to 2015. Another year is here, fresh and ready for all our hopes and dreams. I’m hoping for a wonderful 2015 and working towards making it so. Here at The Waki Librarian, I’ll still be posting, though a little less frequently, as I work on some other projects and wanted to start of with some fun links for the new year.

I love book lists. They are great for finding new authors and books to read. I thought this interactive word cloud of the novels everyone should read was fun. I’ve read many of the books on the list and think I’ll need to check out some more. I’m planning on actually recording the books I read this year as I think it will be interesting to see what I’ve read when the year is through. I expect it will be an odd mix of fun reading, work reading, and random stuff I pick up at our local indie bookstore or on the new bookshelf at the library.

Also, I love the post on Stephen Abram’s blog on 2015 reading challenge. There are a number of fun lists of reading challenges for the new year to get you and your patrons inspired to read.

Finally, what would this post be if I didn’t share Neil Gaiman’s lovely post, New Year Wishes and Gifts? A bit duller and less joyful, I think. Go read what a master of writing has had to say over the last 15 years for new year wishes. Just lovely.

I know I said the blog would only be on hiatus for November, but December really went by so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to stop and post. So this year, I’m planning on writing a blog post a week, or so, on The Waki Librarian. Still sharing news and notes from the library world as well as cool tools and notes for technology and possibly some other fun stuff thrown in. I hope you have a wonderful day and weekend, that your 2015 is glorious and you have people around that you are happy to be with on this new year’s journey. I’ll be back soon. Allons-y!

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