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2016 and We’re Back

January 8, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe that we are already over a week into the new year? I can hardly believe it myself. The campus is full of students again and everything is chugging along at its usual frenetic pace. So I thought we’d slow down a bit today and focus on some articles and items that can help us try to keep calm as we rush headfirst into the new year.

I love being organized, don’t you? It makes work and play that much easier. While it isn’t gift-giving season per se, this article on the Gift of Organization from Lifehacker is still useful if you are trying to figure out how to get a bit more organized before the month is out. I recently bought some new storage containers for home, now I just need to find some time to actually get things organized in them…

A new month of course means new beautiful Desktop Wallpaper Calendars from Smashing Magazine. If you have to stare at a screen all day like I often do for work, you might at least have a lovely desktop wallpaper. This month’s batch of wallpapers run the gamut from cute to quirky to beautiful so I’m sure you can find something to perk up your screen.

Finally, if nothing else works for holding back the chaos at work and/or home, have a cup of tea. There is nothing like a cup of tea to make a few minutes a bit better. In that vein, check out the lovely Tea Time Fashionable Friday post from The Well-Appointed Desk. Tea (and some coffee) plus stationery? Count me in.

I hope you had a lovely end to 2015 and are having a good start to 2016. I’m sure this year will bring many changes, challenges, and surprises. I’ll be back again soon with some more thoughts on libraries and such. Allons-y!



Time at the End of the Year

December 11, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! Another week in December gone by. The time does really seem to fly by at this time of year. Everything wrapping up (including packages) and the start of anticipating the new year makes it a great time of year to slow down and prioritize what we want to do next in our lives. This post has some resources to help with time, focus, and getting our stuff done (in life and at work).

Do you feel like time is speeding up as you get older? If so, you’re not alone. Goodness knows I’d like to have enough time to be bored sometimes. Lifehacker has an interesting article on why this phenomenon exists and what we can do to get back into the present moment. Enjoy the article on Why Time Feels Like it’s Flying By.

Part of the reason time seems to be flying by is that most of us, if we admit it, are overscheduled, bad at multitasking, and jump from project to project throughout the day. Because of this, our focus suffers. Being reflective and proactive about how we work helps and so do these Seven Strategies for Regaining Focus in Hectic Workplace. Let’s all agree to have a less hectic workplace in the new year, shall we? That would be grand.

I love the idea of taking the time now to Schedule Catch-up Days in the new year. Having a day or even an afternoon to tackle the to-do list and get through everything that keeps getting put off is a great idea. I’m pulling out my planner now to schedule some in 2016.

I hope you have a lovely day and weekend, dear readers. Hard to believe we are at the end of another year. Let’s make the most of it. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

December 8, 2015

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! We all need a bit of fun on a Tuesday, especially since it is final exams week at my university. So I have a few fun things to share today.

First, for those looking for some lovely new icons to use in their designs, check out this icon set from Smashing Magazine: Voyage Icon Set. So much fun to use new icons. I’m a big fan of the free Smashing Magazine sets and have found them really useful in sprucing up our library brochures and ads.

For those who love science, and those who love creative, cool concepts, check out Super Science Friends: Episode 1. I love scientists re-imagined as superheroes.

Also, if you need a moment to relax and enjoy some nature, even if you can’t step away from your desk, check out the Winners of Royal Society Publishing’s photography competition. Absolutely lovely. Makes me want to go wandering out in the woods right now.

I hope you have a lovely week. Allons-y!

Why Being On-Campus Matters: Or, the Benefits of Drop-ins

December 4, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers! So here we are, into December already. Can you believe we are in the last month of the calendar year? Neither can I. The days and weeks and months have seemed to fly since the school year started. But here we are. Today, I wanted share a bit about why being on-campus matters to me as a librarian and my one unscheduled day of the week when being on-campus just might matter (almost) most.

This quarter, my only day when I don’t have a meeting, class, or reference desk hours scheduled is on Tuesday. I feel rather grateful for having a day when I’m not automatically scheduled to be somewhere other than my office. If that makes me sound old-fashioned or out-of-touch, I don’t really care. It is nice to have some unscheduled time, especially when I am expected to research and publish in addition to my teaching and service duties. I often use Tuesdays for research: writing and revising article manuscripts, analyzing transcripts for a study, or finishing up grant paperwork. Tuesdays are my unofficial research day, but they’ve also become my unofficial “drop-in to see me” day for students, colleagues, and unexpected visitors.

In one Tuesday, I had an unexpected transfer of materials to the archives from an office that was moving, food drive donations, a history professor stop by to chat, an impromptu check-in about next term’s outstanding scheduling issues (even though I’m technically not scheduling all of our courses this year), and a request from a colleague for help with a misbehaving tutorial software program. To me, this day served as a reminder and an example for why being present on-campus and available, even when I’m not technically in office hours, is so important. As an academic librarian, a library faculty member, I have a lot of flexibility with my time and days, but it is still so important to be around, in the library, to have these serendipitous encounters. Not to mention, being able to have a chat with another professor and help a colleague rescue their tutorial work, totally made my day.

Would I have gotten even more research done had I been holed up in another place no one could find me? Definitely. Would I get annoyed if I got interrupted throughout the whole of my day? Completely. But is it worth a little less productivity to help out? Of course. Plus, it reminds me why I love librarianship. I love being able to help people; I love the conversations and the problem-solving; I love having the library be part of the larger community, on campus and off.

So, my unscheduled day has reminded me why being on-campus and available is so important. It is a reminder to not overschedule myself so I’m available for those drop-in moments and those serendipitous chats (and so I have the headspace to be present and open to these conversations).

So I hope, dear readers, that you have some unscheduled time in your day for these kind of encounters and if you don’t, that you do soon. We are all continually stretched to our limits, I think, but it is good to remember that sometimes it really is being around and present that counts in getting our work done. Allons-y!



Thankful Post 2015

November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! In honor of the holiday of giving thanks (and a not-quite-annual tradition on this blog), I wanted to take today to write a bit about things I’m thankful for in the library. I’m not going to be comprehensive (at this point in the term the memory is a bit fuzzy) or try to fit it into a predefined list (too hokey). Instead, I’m just going to write a bit of thanks and call it a good day.

1. East Bay Wrimos This was the first year that I signed up the library as an official Come Write In partner for National Novel Writing Month. It has been a long, exhausting month hosting write-ins every weekend, but the people I’ve met and gotten to know better over the course of the month has made it all worth it. (Even the running around like mad trying to figure out how to work a colleague’s coffee maker when my order for coffee hadn’t been received so there was no delivery one weekend). It has been great to write with other people, listen to their stories, and share laughs as we all do this crazy, novel-writing thing. It makes me happy to see so many people, who wouldn’t normally come to campus, come to the library and have a great time.

2. Students I’m continually thankful for my (mostly) wonderful students, both in the classes I teach, the ones I see at the reference desks, and the ones that come for help in my office. They keep me on my toes and make me remember why I love to teach and learn. I’ve felt especially grateful this year for students I’ve had in previous terms who’ve come back to say hi, get help on research for their current classes, and introduce me to friends who need a bit of research help, too. It makes being a teaching librarian a lot of fun (and makes doing grading seem a little easier, too).

3. Colleagues I love having colleagues I can collaborate and learn with at my library. A couple of colleagues and I were in the same faculty learning community this year and are just finishing up an article manuscript together. It has been great to share the learning experience and article writing experience with them.

4.  Generosity This is the fourth year we’ve participated as a library in our campus’ Bountiful Basket food drive. I’m always so grateful for the generosity of my colleagues in giving to the food drive and how we are able to represent the library in another positive way within our campus community. Plus, it is always fun to see just how many cans of green beans we get each year.😉

So really, I’m thankful for so much of my work and my ability to keep learning and sharing. I hope that you have many things to be thankful for this year, too, dear readers. I’m also thankful that next month is December and I should have some more time to write and share here. Because, as always, I’m thankful that you read this blog, dear readers. It is always a journey. Allons-y!

Design in Libraries is Serious, but Sometimes We Need Fun

October 30, 2015

Happy Friday and Happy (Almost) Halloween, dear readers! So I think graphic design, and design generally, in libraries is a serious business. How we present ourselves visually, how well we communicate, and how intuitive our services and resources are to use are of great importance to the effective and efficient functioning of our libraries. However, just because it is serious doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun, especially so close to Halloween.

The first piece I ever got published when I became a librarian was a short piece about having fun as a librarian and how important that was to growth. I thought it was obvious. There’s lots of research about the value of play and how integral it is to work and life, especially if you want to be balanced and creative. I thought it would be a short article to get my feet wet and a piece that would help others see that adding some levity to their days could help out. Most saw it that way, but I still recall one comment that said fun and play had no business in an academic library and they’d never want to work with someone who thought that way. I guess not everyone is into playing and doing things differently. But in any case, I still think play is important in libraries and especially when we talk about design work. And what better time to think about play than on the eve of a holiday that is all about play and fun: Halloween.

So for the Halloween fun, here’s a spooky, fun, and somewhat scary look at monsters in literature. Be warned the banner image is a clown. If that isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what is.

Also, for Halloween fun, check out Smashing Magazine’s free Halloween icon set. Not terrifying, even kind of cute, icons that you can use for some last minute designs. Because Halloween means time for designing, right?:)

Back in the library, don’t be afraid to play with your designs and try new things. Even if you have a branding manual, you can still play. Sometimes events call for using Chiller in a huge font size on a banner announcing a costume contest or scary book reading. Sometimes you need to allow yourself the room to play with a new icon set for creating some lovely spook-tacular bookmarks to hand out for anyone checking out a frightful book for the weekend. And sometimes you need to tell yourself that even if you get it wrong with your designs, it isn’t the end of the world and no one is going to ship you off as fodder for the Headless Horseman. You always have next time to get it right and you’ll probably learn something along the way.

Design in libraries is serious business, but it is also great fun. Don’t lose track of that and I know you’ll not only create some great designs, but you’ll also enjoy the process.

Hope you have a fantastic, fun-filled, beautifully designed weekend. Allons-y!

Thinking about Design, Committees, and Libraries

October 23, 2015

Happy Friday, dear readers. I hope your week has gone well and you have some fun planned for the weekend. Today I wanted to take a little time to share some thoughts on design and libraries. Or, more specifically design by committees, potential pitfalls, and a way forward.

I think about library design a lot. I can’t help it. One of my great loves is for good design, specifically good graphic design. I have an incorrigible habit of volunteering to design or re-design things for my library, even when I really have enough to do because I can’t stand having something get printed up or posted online that doesn’t reflect well on our library. Plus, I love design. I love the challenges and constraints and being able to communicate well visually.

I also think about library design a lot because I research graphic design and librarians. In an upcoming paper, I share information about best practices and processes already in place at libraries (article will be published soon, I hope, since it was accepted). One of the takeaways from my research thus far is the variation of how design processes are handled at libraries and the costs & benefits of design committees. Like all committees, design committees at a library can either be a blessing or a curse and either way, there is sometimes no way around a committee. But I wanted to talk a bit about how we can make the most of design committees.

First, try to get people on your design committee that actually know something about design. That always helps. If the people making the decisions don’t know about design, how can you expect to have great, or even good design, come out of the committee? Common sense, but sometimes committees are filled more by seniority or crystal ball than by actual experience or knowledge. So if you have control over a design committee, get people who know something about design.

Second, make sure your mandate and authority are clear. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to do or how much authority/control you have over the design work in your library, you are being set up for failure. Don’t allow it and get as clear of an answer as possible from whoever implemented the committee and has final approval over the designs you’ll produce.

Perhaps most importantly, remember that you aren’t going to please everyone with your design work and that’s okay. As Seth Godin wrote about the 2% who misunderstand you, they aren’t the ones you are designing for. You are never going to please everyone. If you try to, your designs will become so watered down and boring that it would have been better just to stick with the clip art and default typefaces you were using all along; at least then you would have saved time. Design is about function and form, but also about beauty and aesthetics. Not everyone agrees on those last two. Make your peace with that and, if you can’t, doing design work for your library is probably not for you.

Just like we shouldn’t create library policies based on one or two squeaky wheels, we shouldn’t make design decisions based on the squeaky wheels. Be bold, be daring, make a mark with your library’s designs whether online or in print, on a huge banner, in the remodel of a study room, or the sign-up form for your programs. Merge utility and beauty to create amazing functionality and fabulous form. Solve problems and present improvements, do user testing and read the research, and then get your committee moving. Don’t wait; don’t fuss; just make.

I wish you all the best in your design work at your library. I’ll be back with more thoughts and research updates. Until then, I wanted to share a couple more things that may interest you as a librarian designer. One, planner subscription services, who knew? Not me, but they look fabulous and fun. I’ve actually been ruling a personalized planner in a Rhodia journal my husband bought me. I couldn’t find a planner I liked at our indie bookstore and thought, why not make my own? So far so good. Also, another lovely freebie from Smashing Magazine: Office and Business Icon Set. Love these icon sets. Great, classy alternatives to the dreaded clip arts. Reward yourself and your designs and download this set!

Have a wonderful day and weekend. Allons-y!


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