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Dreams and Design

January 22, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week is going well and you feel settled in the new year. I’m still trying to remember to write 2016 on memos and papers, but feel like 2016 is already running away from me sometimes. Always so much to do and learn, especially in libraries. Today I wanted to talk a bit about dreams, because it is that time of year, and a bit about design, because libraries should always be talking about design.

First, a couple of things to share: Month in Typography by I Love Typography and All Steps Lead to Somewhere by This is Indexed. Both of these have been on my mind in this new year as we consider design and branding, promotion and outreach, marketing and engagement at my library. Sometimes it is overwhelming when I think about what I can accomplish today or this week (especially when teaching and considering all my other duties). But it is important to remember that we can only accomplish anything by taking the first step, no matter how small, or continuing on with a long-term project.

I’ve been thinking a lot about designing and dreaming in this new year as we are talking about how to do better outreach and publicity for the library, which obviously means we need to design publicity materials. In order to do this properly, we have to have space to dream and to create. Sometimes this seems impossible with all the urgent, and even important, tasks we are called on to do everyday as librarians. However, if we don’t reserve the time for thinking and dreaming, we come up empty when it is time to create posters and flyers and handouts for our events. And herein lies one of the great challenges of librarianship. There is always more to do, so how do we carve out time for these design projects? I don’t think anyone has the perfect, one-size-fits-all answer, but I know that we have to make space for designing if we are going to succeed at my library in promoting and engaging with our community.

For me, the space to dream and design almost always happens in the morning before most of my colleagues arrive at the library. I have to resist the siren song of checking my email and instead use the first hour for whatever design project I’m working on, or paper I need to write, or data I need to analyze. I have to be protective and even stubborn about keeping this space open for my work or it is too easy for it to get lost in the shuffle of all the urgent tasks that need my attention. I’m a morning person, so it works for me. Do what works for you. If you are creative later in the day, use that time. Will  it work every day? Of course not. But if you can line up more days than not for working on your projects, you’ll be amazed what you can do.

And you know, the funny thing about being deliberate about designing my time like that? I still manage to get all the urgent stuff done, too, but feel better at the end of the day because I’ve gotten further along on my important projects, too. Work really does expand to fill time, so design your time so you have as much control as you can.

I hope the new year brings you many opportunities to dream and to design. I hope you turn your dreams into wonderful projects to share with the world. I hope you find great satisfaction, and even joy, in your work this year. I’ll be back with more news and notes soon. Allons-y!

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