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Designing and Being Brave

March 27, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a wonderful weekend planned. I can hardly believe we’ll be in April next week. The time really does pass quickly, even if the spring days are getting longer here in the Bay Area. Today I just want to share a few links and thoughts about designing and being brave. I’ve been doing a lot of graphic design work this week so these two topics are on the forefront of my mind.

We’re getting ready for a week of National Library Week events at my library and I volunteered to take the lead on designing flyers, posters, and handouts for our events, so I’ve been doing a lot of graphic design work this week. And I love it, but it does take a significant amount of time, which I don’t mind because designing is one of the most fun tasks, outside of teaching and research, that I get to do. But it does mean that I have to be brave because when the posters go up and the handouts get given away, my designs are out there for potential criticism, which can be scary, even if you’re not designing something for some major campaign.

So I re-read this Lifehacker post on How to be braver in your everyday life and wanted to share it because I’m thinking a lot about being braver in everyday life, especially when it comes to sharing out my work and designs. Creating is super-fun, but sharing those creations can be a fear-producing thing because then it is in the public and not everyone will always like what you do. But I figure if I can handle the barbs (and sometimes incredibly unprofessional comments) from anonymous peer reviewers of my research, I can handle criticism of my designs. So that’s my baby way of being a bit braver and sharing out a bit more. I have to give a shout-out to Online Northwest because my presentation on graphic design there went over well, which has given me a lot more confidence to be brave about volunteering for design work and suggesting things at work.

I love hearing from artists about their work processes and what they love about what they do, so I obviously loved James White in this short video, How professional designers create their posters. I love how enthusiastic graphic designer, James White, is about his work and it looks awesome. If only all our library posters could look so cool and have such thought put into their designs.

One great way to make awesome posters or other designs for the library, or really for anything, is to start with a great photograph. So I had to share this lovely video on nine tips for photography composition, which uses amazing photographs by Steve McCurry to illustrate the tips. Watch and learn, or if it is all review for you, just admire the beautiful photographs.

I hope these videos and articles have pushed you, maybe, just a bit, into thinking about how you can be a little bit braver in your life and/or your library. Maybe they’ve inspired you, just a bit, to take a second look at a sign in your library or a flyer or a handout and think about how you might be able to improve it, just a bit. Or maybe you’re inspired to go out and capture some moments from you weekend. In any case, I hope you have a fantastic weekend and I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

March 24, 2015

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! I hope your week is going well. It’s spring break here on campus. And you know what that means: the library is super-quiet and all of us are running around trying to get as much done as possible before the spring quarter starts. But during all that running around, we need to remember to take some breaks, which is what the Tuesday Fun post is all about.

I love the movie, Jurassic Park, and I love LEGOs, so I had to share this wonderful video that a daughter and dad team created. So much fun!

Also, I love that there are 19th century Japanese woodcuts that show LOLcats. No really, you can check out the article and video here. I’d love to go see this exhibition, Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection,  at New York’s Japan Society.

Springtime also means more baking, at least in our house, so I wanted to share this great video on how to make swirled cupcake frosting. Now I’ve got to make some fancy cupcakes because just about everyone loves cupcakes.

I hope you have a wonderful day and rest of your week. I’ll be back on Friday with some library news and notes. Allons-y!

Projects, Projects, and More Projects

March 20, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! Also, happy first day of spring! I don’t have much to say on the spring front other than I wish we’d get more rain in the Bay Area so that gardening can be a thing this year. But one thing that spring does make me think of is starting projects, both at home and at work, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on projects today.

Although it should be self-evident, I like the reminder from Lifehacker that you can’t make time for more new projects without changing your priorities. Time really is the one non-negotiable constant in our lives and you can’t just cram more stuff in each day without something giving. It is really important, whether at work or at home, to determine what you can actually get done before taking on something new. No one wants to be the person that drops the ball on a project or is so stressed that they make others around them stressed. I think being mindful about your priorities and what you take on is key for maintaining (or creating) a balanced life that is challenging and rewarding.

Also, on that note, it is said a lot, but is worth repeating that stressing yourself out by running around like a chicken with your head cut off doing too much is not helping anyone. There should be no guilt attached to actually prioritizing time to rest, to recharge, and to read something that isn’t related to work. I always think it is sad when my fellow librarians are too busy and tired to read for fun, something that probably led us into the world of working with books in the first place.

This new year has been a year of many projects, especially research projects for me. It has seemed like all opportunities got dropped in my lap at once so I’m having to be very disciplined about timelines and deadlines for each project. Could I take on another one at this point? Not without seriously compromising the quality on the other projects I’m doing. I have to remind myself, and I’m sure others do too, that it’s okay to say no. Better say no than not be able to follow through for your project team.

To me the topic of projects is always tied to creativity because I think we can be creative in most of our work. I wanted to share this other article from Lifehacker on five creativity myths. While I don’t agree with everything in the article, overall it is a good reminder that creative people aren’t just born that way and the rest of us are out of luck. We can all do things to up our creative minds so we can add new twists and ideas to our projects. I think about this all the time when working on graphic design projects at work or when I’m trying to figure out how to best conduct a study for a research project. Have fun and don’t let the naysayers of the creative world get you down.

And because it is the first day of spring, I had to share a Joy the Baker recipe that says spring to me: classic lemon bars! I made these a few weeks ago and they were delicious. Her cream cheese pound cake recipe is also fantastic with some homemade jam as a spring time tea treat.

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

Tuesday Fun

March 17, 2015

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! It is final exam week on my campus so I could definitely use some diverting fun today. So I thought I’d share a few interesting things that have come over the feeds in the last few weeks. Friday, I’ll be back to the usual news and notes from the library.

The official start to spring is this Friday and I’m totally looking forward to gardening this year, even though most of my yard is in the shade. I was excited to see this post by Lifehacker on the Top 10 Ways to Get Your Dream Garden Ready this Year. I know a lot of the country is still covered with snow (if you could send some to California, I’d be very grateful), but soon we’ll be able to garden and that makes me smile.

I wanted to share this post of photographs of timepieces with you, too. Somehow it made sense in my head as we are counting down the time to spring planting and also are now on Daylight Savings Time. Besides, sometimes it is just nice to view some beautiful photographs.

Also, as the days get longer, we have more daylight after work to do outdoor activities. I love walking and hiking after work, especially for the ability to find calmness after a busy day. Therefore, I thought this short piece on the importance of letting your mind wander to reset your ability to focus was especially appropriate this time of year as many of us try to cram even more into our days. Yay for nature walks!

I hope these pieces gave you a nice break or inspired you to get away from your phone or computer and take a walk. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

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!

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