30 August 2011

Hurricane Tracker Map 2011

A large format poster was created to track hurricanes in the youth services section of the library.

Just in time for Hurricane Irene, one of our youth services librarians requested the creation of a large format map of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, and eastern seaboard of the United States. This map would be used to track paths taken by hurricanes during the 2011 hurricane season.

A young boy works on the computer under the
hurricane tracker display poster.
The librarian submitted a map to me that she had found and liked, but it was a relatively small .jpg file—certainly one that wouldn't enlarge to the requested 10x5 foot size needed. So I sourced domain free vector art websites and found an alternative map that had great graphic appeal and wouldn't lose any integrity in its line work when being enlarged.

She liked the alternate map too, and, after some modifications, I printed it out in three 10 foot x 36 inch strips, then taped them together to create one large poster. Additional signs would be created to provide more information about hurricanes as well.

We pinned the poster up on the wall about a week before Hurricane Irene formed. After the storm blew through the New England states, I revisited the map to see if the storm trek had been posted. Sure enough it had; hurricane symbols followed the path indicated by yellow yarn arching up the coast of the United States. And there were others too...names of hurricanes I didn't even know had occurred. How could I have missed news of them...where had I been? Well, certainly not in front of the Hurricane Tracker 2011 map!

If the librarians take good care of the map and store it well, they can make use of it again in coming years. No dated information was placed on it that couldn't be covered up with a simple patch of new text written on it. So for the low, low cost of producing this in-house cheaply (ink and paper) and with free art, it could be a good investment for years to come.

Installed wall view with computer terminals in front.

Closer look at the map with hurricane treks in place.

17 August 2011

MORE Library Alcove Display Posters, August 2011

The "WORD" is that we have a great collection of urban fiction at the library!

In my earlier post, I showed two of the five large format alcove display posters developed for the month of August. Due to time restraints, we canceled one planned for Romance, but all others were created. Here, I show the two remaining posters. 

"WORD On The Street" is a simple graphic to promote the library's Urban Fiction Collection. I sourced for photos of urban street scenes--roadways and walls--and found an image that I had hoped to find: a wall with a great assortment of graffiti on it that I could add our own wording to in complimentary graffiti style. I had to source for graffiti fonts also, because prior to this assignment I didn't have anything that really looked like good, hand-generated graffiti lettering. I simply went to Google, input a keyword search for "free graffiti fonts" and perused some of the offered sites for fonts I thought I could use. I should note that I advocated for us encourage viewer participation by placing crayons or other writing utensils out for patrons to use to also mark on the poster, but we all knew that would leave us open to having certain unsavory words marked on the poster. As much as graffitiing up a wall would be just like real life, we didn't want promote too much delinquent real life behavior inside the library itself!

Mystery display poster incorporates the use of QR code
"clues" to reference selections from the collection to
encourage viewer participation.
Our Mystery display poster ended with its original concept visual elements. However, enroute to creating it, it took an interesting twist. First, I re-wrote the planned headline "If the butler didn't do it, who did?" to become "Who Done It?" so it could fit into three panels of a window I created. That phrase conjured up my memory of the Ellery Queen murder mystery novels which used the same phrase. That made me recall other classic catch phrases and themes often used in murder mysteries, such did the butler do it, did the murder take place somewhere else and the body moved or staged at a second location, was the victim poisoned, was evidence planted to throw investigators off the murderer's trail, etc. I thought it might be fun and kind of kitchy to include those questions on the poster too. 

The installed large format poster.
Once I started placing the questions with their associated imagery, it occurred to me that since I was asking a question (or questions), wouldn't it be great if I could find a way to engage patrons to answer it/them? Perhaps I could even turn it into an activity challenge of some sort. I remembered when we began to develop our QR code program, the possibility of using QR codes as part of a scavenger hunt or other activities could be a fun and useful way of promoting our service using this technology. So I decided to ask if this poster could be a good project for testing out such an endeavour. Everyone liked the idea of it and wanted to see if it was something we were ready to undertake. After a few weeks of planning and developing the back-end resources, QR code images were created and added to white squares placed after each question. The activity results--whether people used them or not, and if so, to what extent and success—will be interesting to know. 

Library Alcove Display Posters, August 2011

Western display both shown alone (right) and installed into the alcove display area.
Every month our library creates a large format poster for what we call our "alcove display" area. This is part of a wall that is recessed and includes a waist-high set of bookshelves set into it. The wall above the bookshelves has a large bulletin board mounted to it that measures 116x69 inches (it also has angled corners at the top that reduces the width to 83 inches at its narrowest width).

In August, our adult services display team wanted to bring attention to the variety of fiction book collections they have: Science Fiction / Fantasy, Western, Urban, Romance, and Mystery. They wanted to create a separate display dedicated to each of the genres, posting a new one each week. This seemed like a good idea until they said they wanted to create, then mount each poster over top of another one so that after one had been seen for a week all they would have to do is tear off the top-most poster to reveal the next one mounted underneath. It was an inspired concept, but the request came too late to create all five posters before the first one needed to be seen.

Instead, we decided to create and pin up posters as their appropriate weeks arrived. This gave me more time to develop displays that didn't need to be hung right away. Even with that extra time, however, my workload to create other marketing communication projects only allowed me time enough to complete two of the five desired for the month.

Sci-Fi poster shown as intended (top) and lightened for printing
(bottom) so that it will output to appear like the top poster image.
To create visuals for these posters, I often source for both illustrative and photographic images from domain free websites, as well as from my existing archives of images. As is usually the case, the final visual is a result of pursuing design intentions that are compromised by whatever images I'm able to find and/or create. And, as it sometimes happens, a concept can take on a new direction and life of its own that wasn't originally envisioned--hopefully for the better.

Technical limitations always present drawbacks as well, such as having a great small photo that couldn't be enlarged to the needed poster size without becoming overly pixelated, or the time when a printer leaked ink all over the poster print, or when the printer couldn't digest a complex image file and left large, unprinted areas where an image should have been. Nevertheless, we do the best that be done to fulfill the initial intention of the project, whether it be resourcing for new images, living with great but pixelated visuals, or patching together sections of a poster that didn't print correctly. 

The Sci-Fi poster installed.
Sometimes, I even have to "trick" our large format printer by lightening the digital image so much that you wouldn't think it could be used. But because our larger format printer prints darker than what is seen on the computer monitor, the final image would come out closer to what you saw on screen before lightening the image. You can see a before/after example of this on the Sci-Fi poster.

16 August 2011

Online Student Resource Bookmarks

Fronts/backs of the online student resource bookmarks.
As the summer winds down--and with it the associated Summer Reading Program--librarians take a brief moment to catch their breath, regroup and plan for upcoming library activities and events. This includes focusing on generating publicity about what student resource material and services may be available through the library. 

As schools begin to open, our library district wanted to provide schools with opening day bag stuffers that promote our library offerings. Some of the items we typically provide schools every year are bookmarks that include online resources students could use to help with research and homework assistance. I was tasked with the assignment to create three different 4.25x11 inch book marks that listed grade-appropriate student resources: one for grades K-6, one for grades 5-12 (there was some overlap in resources, I was told), and one for home schooled students. The first two required a print count of 1000; the latter one needed only 500. I printed each of the bookmarks two-up per 8.5x11 inch page on 110lb card stock, then trimmed in half to size. All of the listed database resources are available through the library website.

04 August 2011

Library Monthly Event Signs, August 2011

11x17 inch signs are created for each of the 11 branch libraries.
It's time again for the next series of monthly event signs for the 11-branch strong library district. Being as the American Library Association's National Summer Reading Program was still in full swing, I utilized the associated artwork offered by the ALA on the monthly signs. It saved me a lot of time otherwise used for concepting and image sourcing. I developed variations based on the two main styles as shown above. Most branches received 11x17 inch signs; two branches that have fewer programs to promote received 8.5x11 inch signs.