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Friday Design

June 5, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good week and that you have lovely plans for the weekend. This is the last week of classes before final exam week here so it has been a bit of a crazy rush and I’m glad for a couple of days off. But before we hit the weekend, I wanted to share some fun design sources with you that may inspire you to finally clean up your photo organization or go take some beautiful photos this weekend.

This article by Lifehacker on 10 ways to improve your messy photo collection is chocked full of great tips to get a handle on your digital photos. As an archivist, I can’t tell you how much I dread getting digital records that have no coherent filing system. For your own piece of mind and for your own ability to access your photos, find an organizational system that works for you and clean your photo files. For me, I still love printing out photos and putting them in albums to share, but I’m old fashioned that way.

Also in the realm of photography, check out Gizmodo’s article on how to take better photos using your camera’s mode dial. While I love the convenience of the camera on my phone, nothing beats having a DSLR for taking photos. Also, while it can be intimidating at first, it is also a lot of fun to learn and don’t let anyone ever make you feel bad when you are learning. (Last bit because I unwisely looked at a few of the comments and was annoyed at people being rude about beginners learning photography.)

I have to say that I love having new desktop backgrounds and so I’m always excited to see the new crop of designs over at Smashing Magazine each month. Check out the June 2015 desktop wallpaper calendars to freshen your desktop. I love the owl one. :)

Finally, because most things I design aren’t complete without some use of type, I had to share this month in typography by I Love Typography. So much inspiration in this post!

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of inspiring things to do and people to see. I’ll be back soon with more. Allons-y!

Work, Goals, and the Light at the End of the Term

May 29, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well, you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do, and you have something fun planned for the weekend. At my university, we can see the light at the end of the quarter as we are done to the final week of classes and then the hurdle of finals week. Summer is almost here, even though it looks like January outside with all the fog and high clouds, and we can almost taste it. So today, I just wanted to share a few thoughts and links on work, goals, and the light at the end of the term.

I’m exhausted and I don’t think I’m the only one. I love teaching at a university, but by the end of the spring quarter I’m pretty much spent. Spring quarter is when all the annual reports are due and everyone is trying to wrap up every project all at once. It is enough to make anyone exhausted and overwhelmed. When I came across this post, It’s not just about working harder, you also need to work faster, I thought I couldn’t have read it at a better time. We don’t just need to work longer, we need to work faster. And to me faster doesn’t mean we run around it a panicked miasma, making everyone around us feel panicked, too. Instead, we channel all our energy, remove all the drama and distractions, and just get work done. Be efficient. Don’t complain about having to do work. Just do the work. It works. I’m not saying I can work full throttle all the time, but it does help to crank out the work at the end of the quarter, especially when I can see the light at the end of the term. (Yay, summer break!)

Doing this at work means we have more time for outside projects, although we have to remember that you can’t achieve your goals if you’re never working towards them. Great, short post by Lifehacker. It reminds me that it is easy to have a goal in my head, but much harder to continue to work towards that goal. But it is worth it because who doesn’t like to level up in achievements? And we all define those achievements in different ways, which is the fun part. Dream big, then get working. Just don’t forget to take a nap once in a while, too.

On the design front, I’m having way too much fun playing with Coolors: the super fast colour schemes generator for cool designers! (Their words, not mine.) It is easy, fast, and a lot of fun to play around with different color schemes. A great tool for those who feel overwhelmed by color choices when designing something new. I’m thinking this might be great for designing our new exhibit color palettes and marketing materials for the library.

And, because it will be summer soon, I just had to share two Joy the Baker recipes that sound amazing: blueberry cheesecake ice cream and strawberry cookies and cream cake. I will have to make these for summer parties this year.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, dear readers, full of fun and play and whatever you want. I’ll be back soon with some more news and notes. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

May 19, 2015

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! It has been a gloomy few days in the Bay Area, but no rain, so I think we definitely need some fun. Today I have a few links to things that I think will give you a nice break during your work day.

Yes, it sounds crazy, but just try not to smile while watching CGI Giraffes dive into a pool. It is wonderful and relaxing.

Also, as we inch closer to summertime, at least around here, I feel the itch to travel. Since I can’t do that right now, I have to instead get my fix by looking at these amazing botanical mazes. They’re pretty fantastic.

Also, I had to share the last Fashionable Friday post from The Well-Appointed Desk: Fast and Furious edition. This is especially for my friend, Hanna, and one of our biology faculty members on campus who happens to share my enjoyment of the Fast and Furious movies.

While not strictly as fun as CGI giraffes, I had to share this short article on Lifehacker about saying no to yourself. So important to remember not to fill our time with more stuff just because we are rocking at time management. I totally have to remember this and was happy to see an article on the topic.

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

Organization and Creativity as Partners

May 15, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has been lovely and you have some fun planned for the weekend. Before we get to the weekend, however, I wanted to take a few minutes to share some ideas about organization and creativity that I’ve been thinking about this week. I have numerous projects going on at the moment so I’ve been thinking a lot about how to be organized to get everything done, but I’ve also been thinking a lot about how to partner organization with creativity and how that works in my life and work.

So I didn’t want to talk about creative organization. I think there are enough blogs out there writing about that. Instead I just wanted to share a few observations about how organization and creativity, at least for me, are partners instead of head-butting opposites. I know that there are people out there who believe that creativity has to be messy and I’d agree. But having a messy creativity process, like getting paint on the floor or ink on your wrists from all the edits on your manuscript are not the same as being unorganized. Sure, creativity is messy, just look at my kitchen table when I’m writing or my work desk when I’m creating a new tutorial or video for my classes. It’s a super-big mess, maybe one that I’ll share sometime with pictures. It’s messy, but it isn’t unorganized.

Being organized for me is a way of saving time and headspace so I can devote more energy to being creative. If my stuff is organized (and I have less of it to organize), then I don’t waste precious minutes or hours searching for what I need, be it some more fountain pen ink, my audio recorder, or a stack of notes for a video script. I’m a firm believer in putting things away, in the same place, every time. It not only keeps it organized, but then I don’t have to try to remember where I last saw something. I know where it is.

This, in turn, allows me to free up space in my head to organize thoughts and projects. Do you ever have days when it feels like the index cards or files in your brain are all hodge-podge on the floor? That each thought you have scurries away before you can link it to the next? I feel like that sometimes, but notice that I feel that way a lot less if I’ve been diligent about organizing my stuff, my time, and my projects. Then I actually have the room in my head to make connections I’d otherwise miss in the noise and I’m calm enough to get something new done. And, I like that.

One of the projects I’m currently working on is a poster session for ALA Annual. I’ll be there on Sunday, June 28th, from 2:30 to 4:00 pm in the Exhibit Hall. You can see details about the poster session here. I’d love it if you’d stop by. We can talk graphic design and libraries. It will be fun or at least hopefully not awkward. I’ll be posting more about poster design as I continue to work on them in the coming weeks.

I hope you have a wonderful spring weekend. I’ll be back soon. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

May 12, 2015

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! Is it just me, or does the world seem to be spinning faster? I swear I don’t have as many hours in the day as I did a few months ago and the days are getting longer and that just makes absolutely no sense to me. Then again, it could just be we are getting to the end of the quarter and there is too much to do. So in honor of all of that, let’s take some time to have some fun because Tuesday needs some love, too.

If you teach, I’m sure you’ve gotten an email from a student at some point that started with the lovely salutation of “Hey, Prof!” If so, enjoy this wonderful comic from PhD Comics How to Write an Email to your Instructor or T.A.. Yeah, it is like that sometimes, though this quarter my class is fantastic so I’ve not had to deal with this particular brand of fun communication.

I love design and typography and am continually blown away by artists who hand-letter their designs. So please, give yourself a delightful break and watch Seb Lester draw logos by hand. Incredible!

xkcd is one of my favorite web comics and I’m so happy there’s been a new biology comic I can share with students. Degree-off is wonderful. Enjoy.

"degree-off" by xkcd

“degree-off” by xkcd

I hope you have a wonderful, productive, fun, and awesome day, dear readers. Or, at least a day that is not super-stressful and worrisome. I’ll be back soon with some thoughts on designing posters as I work towards completing mine for ALA Annual. :) Allons-y!

Bits and Bobs

April 24, 2015

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!

Creativity and One Design Tip

April 17, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely week and are looking forward to a lovely weekend. Also, Happy National Library Week! We’ve had a week of events here at the library, which has made for a fun (and busy) week. I enjoyed designing posters and flyers for our events so I wanted to talk a bit about creativity today as well as start talking about design. Since one of my new research areas is looking at graphic design and libraries, I wanted to start sharing some of that on this blog. So let’s get into it.

First, I had to share this article from Lifehacker on How You’re Sabotaging Your Creativity Every Day. Go ahead and read it; I’ll wait for you here. I really like this article. It is a good reminder that we shouldn’t feel like we need to copy someone else’s schedule to be more creative. It is about what works best for us. And, if you need one, the article gives you the excuse to keep working on side projects, which I think is great. I would also add that we have to give up the myth that we just wait around for the muse to strike to be creative or that we have to keep a totally rigid schedule to be creative. I think it is great to have a schedule and figure out your best times to work. It helps to be consistent and work consistently as you are more likely to train your brain to know when you are “being creative.” But, on the flip side, not all of us can always keep a consistent schedule for our creative work. I’ll give you an example.

While not the most creative work I do, I would argue that writing up research articles takes a measure of creativity. You have to synthesize literature, you have to be creative in spotting where you can make a contribution, and you have to ultimately write up your findings in a way that will get accepted for publication if you want to share out your results in the peer-reviewed literature. Being in a position where publication is expected, I do this quite often and it is definitely a creative and at times exhausting process. When I first started in my position, I could only write in the mornings and only if I had long, uninterrupted stretches of time. When I first started, I also had fewer commitments on campus which made this possible. Shutting the door actually worked and I could get work done. But now, almost 7 years on, I rarely am able to take a day away from campus (or even a half day) to dedicate to writing. It’s kinda sad, but at the same time, I’m much better now at using 15, 20 minute breaks in my day to write and revise articles. My last article, which I’m currently revising, was written completely in small time pockets at work. So while I’m a huge fan of scheduling writing/drawing/creating time, I think it is also important to maintain flexibility to still be creative (and productive) when scheduling problems throw a kink in our best laid plans. Life happens, but we can still create.

On that note, I just wanted to share one design tip today. If you are interested in graphic design and are a librarian, look for inspiration and experience outside of the library field. Don’t confine yourself to literature, webinars, courses, etc. that are written only within our field. One of the best, fondational books I just read for graphic design was Best Practices for Graphic Designers: Grids and Page Layouts. It is an excellent introduction to using grids to organize your designs and the importance of planning before creating designs. I highly recommend it.

I hope you have a lovely weekend planned full of everything that makes you happy. I’ll be back next week with more news and notes. Allons-y!


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