18 April 2011

THINK... Library Newsletter / Program Guide, Spring 2011

Front cover
The Spring 2011 issue of the ACLD library newsletter / program guide is due to arrive any day. This issue gives acknowledgement to the ACLD's 25th Anniversary and reports on some of its major accomplishments--past and present--since its inception. On the cover, I used an image of an open book, and on back showed the spines of 25 books stacked on each other to create a timeline. Each spine contains the mention of one major highlight or milestone from that year. Both photos were public domain photos. The book spine was originally taken from a larger photo; I copied out two different book spines, scaled them vertically to be narrower, and repeat duplicated them as shown below until they could fit within my newsletter space.
Back cover

14 April 2011

Library Web Ads, aka "Webslides"

A selection of library website homepage ads.
If you've ever seen our library homepage at www.aclib.us, you will have noticed the series of images that appear and disappear on a rotating basis. These web ads are what we call "webslides" due to the slideshow nature of their presentation. Each week, a few new library events--usually between five to eight--are selected to promote in this manner. 

We try to determine which events we want to promote at least a few weeks ahead. There's no need for a webslide related to an event that has been in the planning stages for weeks and months ahead of the actual event date to have to wait until the last few days to be produced. Advance planning for promoting an event is almost as important as planning the event itself and should, in fact, be a component of the planning itself--not as an afterthought (my mantra: some people are very good about it, while others need to be beaten over the head with it).

We prefer for the images to remain simple and without a lot of descriptive language on them because immediately beneath the images we have room for a headline and text to explain more about the event. Some webslides are straight-forward, others more conceptual. Most have at least a headline; others include a little additional descriptive text. Sometimes images are provided, sometimes not--the latter requires me to go sourcing for images to either use alone or in combination with others. Simply put, development of these ads runs the gamut of possibilities based on what I have to work with and what I need.

That being said, I have been on a webslide tear the past couple of weeks, working ahead to  create images for display as far ahead as the middle of June! With each week having between five to eight images needing to be created, I've been cranking on all cylinders to source and compile images and essential event text. This, on top of all the other multiple projects in the works. In fact, webslides are really one of the lesser time-demanding projects I develop on a regular basis. More often than not, work on webslides gets squeezed in between the lulls and odd-times of doing other projects.

General descriptions of our events can be found on the event calendar portion of our website. But sometimes when the descriptions are vague or inadequate for helping me to visualize what would be appropriate, I have to call on the person organizing it to give me some insight. So the creative process can either be quick and easy, or be a long, drawn-out affair of exchanging emails and waiting for replies. By-and-large, however, most librarians are good at responding relatively quickly. They have a lot to do too, after all.

12 April 2011

ACLD Celebrates It's 25th Anniversary

ACLD Headquarters Library alcove display show highlights through the years.
Unbelievable, but true: the Alachua County Library District chose April 1st--also known as April Fool's Day--as it's first day of operation. It was in 1986 when the Santa Fe Regional Library became the Alachua County Library District and its own independent taxing district. A couple of county libraries joined together; other libraries were incorporated or built to expand service; construction of the Headquarters Library began in 1989, then opened February 2, 1991; and the library district continues to grow with the additional branch building renovations, bookmobile service, and construction of a new library.

Considering its success, the history of the ACLD has been anything but foolish. Its fiscal strength, supporting organizations and volunteers, and acquisition of resources and event development for the many communities it serves has helped Alachua County even achieve a variety of accomplishments and additional notoriety by being named one of the nation's 100 Best Communities for Young People by America's Promise Alliance.

From a design perspective, it wasn't until 2005 that the Library District established its own brand logo with a tagline: “thinking outside the book”. Prior to that, they had been using the generic international library logo, as seen in my earlier blog entry.

To let patrons know that the library district was celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Headquarters Library installed a display to catch their eyes...a timeline which featured a single highlight from almost each of the 25 years. Peppered alongside the ACLD highlights were additional highlights from the world of culture, politics, and science and technology. The display filled up quickly with the multitude of highlights, and we enjoy the sight of seeing people stopping to linger over the potpourri of things to read. 

I liken the display presentation to the result of a big wind storm that blew a bunch of papers up on the wall. But as long as people find the content interesting to read, then I'm happy enough to know that they've been entertained, learned something new, and hopefully have come to appreciate the library all the more for its many accomplishments and dedication to serving the community.

11 April 2011

Staff Farewell Card

Front of a going-away card for staff member.

A few weeks ago my supervisor--the director of public relations and marketing--tendered her resignation. Last week she had her last day. Her colleagues in administration--of which I am one--had a small farewell get-together to show their appreciation. We had some light finger food and refreshments and talked about the past and things to come.

My supervisor was not only taking on a new job, but she was also relocating to pursue it. All the way to Seattle. It would be a big move from the far southeast of America to the far northeast...2,985 miles / 4,804 km, to be exact. She would also be trading in her work as a marketeer of libraries to become a marketeer of a healthcare company. Despite the change in industries, she would still be able to take with her valuable experience she had acquired from working with the library district.

I wanted to create a simple farewell card that would impart the idea that despite the distant location of her new environment, a little of the Alachua County Library District would go along with her and would serve her well.

DANGER...Clever Alert!
I had a couple of ideas, but the one that I eventually worked up was the one shown above. When I phonetically sounded out the word "Seattle" I heard the letters: C-A-D-L. Say each letter. Then say it faster. Now say it really fast three times! What do you hear? "C-A-D-L" sounds like "Seattle"! (depending on your accent). This wouldn't normally be very exciting except for the fact that when rearranged these letters make up the exact acronym of the library district she was leaving: ACLD (Alachua County Library District).

Combining these letters with a public domain photo of the iconic Seattle skyline was all I needed to create the exterior of my card. On the inside, I would write two short lines of text that said: "If you can imagine it, there'll always be a little A-C-L-D in Seattle (C-A-D-L). Best wishes from all of us on your next adventure."

Writing that served two purposes: one to express our well wishes and encouragement to her on her new endeavour, and one to provide the answer to what "C-A-D-L" meant in case she didn't make the connection. I knew that some people would not make that connection while others would right away, so I knew I'd have to cover my bases. Sure enough, the litmus test during the get-together proved my theory. Some people indeed got it right away while others didn't. But the inside text took care of that, and hopefully, the card would also remain memorable for her as well.

It's a good thing she wasn't moving to Albuquerque!

07 April 2011

Celebrate the Child

Sign concept (left) and completed (right).

Two of our branch libraries recently had an event for voluntary pre-kindegarten enrollment. I was asked to design two 8.5x11 inch signs to promote the events. Both signs would be identical except for a change in the date/location information.

The person requesting the sign emailed me a visual of what she had in mind. She had created the image using the computer software program called Publisher which has limited, but effective page layout and text editing capabilities. 

I appreciated receiving her concept as reference for developing the final work. Receiving a file like this is simply part of the process of thinking visually about solutions for the project at hand. And the earlier it comes in the stage of the creative process, the better. If it comes from the client, that can be a big boost to streamline the process. Whether the idea is a scribble on a napkin, notes along the margins of a report, or a complete digital mock-up from yourself or the client, the creative process begins somewhere and steers the boat, so to speak, based on the direction given.

The handbill design.
Now--just to be sure--I did touch base with the client to confirm that she didn't want the specific pinwheel visual she sent me. For all I knew, it could have been the official image of the event. So being mindful of all the possibilities, checking first to see if that was the real deal or only concept art was important. Knowing beforehand could save me a ton of time if I had gone to a lot of effort to secure a different pinwheel image, used it in my layout and then found out later that the client actually wanted the specific pinwheel she had sent me. With the confirmation that what she sent was only general reference, I moved forward to source images. I also used the same conversational time to inquire about how/where to get the best quality of sponsor logos she had placed on her layout but didn't provide as live working elements.

I searched online for a domain free image of a pinwheel and found one with good lighting. It had a background that I removed; then I added a slight circular motion blur to fan portion of the pinwheel. I added it to a sky background image I already had, and arranged the sponsor logos and event text around the pinwheel as best I could. Fortunately, some of the activities text changed, which reduced the amount of language and freed up more room on the sign. I chose a lively display font named "Curlz" for the headline and activities mentions, and used "Dom Casual" for the rest. Both easy to read by the younger aged readers.

The client loved the final look of the signs and was very appreciative of how quickly and efficiently I produced the designs for her. 

The full compliment of promotional collaterals included:
11x17 inch signs (50)

8.5x11 inch fliers (75)
Quarter-page handbills (200)
Web ad (1; shown right).

01 April 2011

Library Monthly Event Signs, April 2011

April monthly event listing signs featured the theme of "rain."
You know the old saying: "April showers bring May flowers." That is the theme of that my April monthly event listing signs plays off of for the ACLD branch libraries. I sourced a variety of rain related public domain imagery and selected shots I felt would best lend themselves to being incorporated into layouts with varying amounts of text. Most shots had to have enough open space to allow for two full columns of text, other shots could be busier and allow for less. Once I knew what the text length would be required for each branch, I could try to balance those length requirements with a matching image. 

As it turned out, I was able to manage some consistency of images for each branch. For example, Hawthorne received the two white background shots seen above that used closed umbrellas (I particularly liked the pink duck umbrella); Millhopper received a series of three gray shots--one of a dark, cloudy sky, one of a black umbrella, and one of a dark water surface; Tower Road received two different red umbrella shots; Headquarters received three different coloured umbrella surface shots. These and other combinations of shots mix-and-matched their way around the complete 11-library district.

This month I also developed a new "container" shape to hold the two columns of text in, a shape that resembled an open book. I frequently use this element behind the columns of text and over the background image to help improve visibility of the text. I do this by making the shape lighter or darker so that the background photo doesn't interfere with the legibility of the words. I've used different container shapes before on other monthly event signs, but I think this one will have to become a standard feature because its book shape relates so perfectly to the notion of reading and libraries.

So now that you have seen what the April theme is, I bet you can guess what the May theme will be to complete the saying...yes?