28 September 2011

Do Not Touch...in the Library

Okay, here's the skinny. I get a work request asking to create a sign to place on our large, 45x36 inch plasma television monitor in the library lobby. The sign is to say: "DO NOT TOUCH SCREEN." It went on to specify: "The sign should be approximately 2" tall x 11.5" wide, however you may want to measure the space to see what looks best." I'm thinking to myself: "Yep, here we go...the beginning of plastering "DO THIS / DON'T DO THAT" signs all over the library. 

Now, I understand that certain undesirable incidents can take place any time, any place, and that placing a label of warning or instruction provides the person whose job it is to "protect the merchandise"--as they say--something to point at in order to say "see? you were warned not to do it...right HERE." 

The only problem with that is that no matter how big you make your sign and no matter how many locations you place such instructions on, somebody, somewhere, will inevitably touch whatever it is you're trying to tell them not to, whether intentional or not. So when I see a sign that says "DO THIS / DON'T DO THAT" I immediately think of what a waste of time the effort is. Legal liability aside for truly serious things, some signs are ineffective and just downright petty.

Excessive labeling is esthetically abusive and gives signage
a bad name. 
To illustrate this point, I don't have to go far to argue my case. All I have to do is spin my chair around in my office. Directly behind me, is a Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 800 large format printer. At  65x42x32 inches in size, it's a pretty big hunk of office equipment. And I'd have to say, not exactly showroom beautiful too. But what makes it truly unsightly is the fact that someone who really wanted people to know that it (at one time) belonged to the Youth Services department of the library, decided to impart that message with silver marker on the black plastic housing. Not once on only one surface, but ten times. TEN! I mean, what is the freaking need for that? Essentially, they just graffitied all over some office equipment in permanent marker. And for what? Who's gonna wheel that lumbering piece of equipment out of the office and down the street? And who's gonna chase after them, shouting "Hey, you! Whattya doing there? That belongs to Youth Services!" I mean, r-e-a-l-l-y. One mention alone would have been plenty. Maybe even more than plenty. If you don't believe me, go ahead. Touch it. What does it matter? If it topples over on you and you want to complain about it, no sign is going to make a difference. It wasn't yours. You shouldn't have been touching it...and because you did, look what happened? It's nobody's fault but your own. 

Get rid of those unsightly, excessive "DO / DON'T DO"
graffiti marks with GOO GONE.
Now then, for the solution. First for the existing graffiti. One of the guys in facilities hooked me up with GOO GONE, a solution that helps to remove grease, stickers, tar, gum, crayon, and tape residue. It's not quite strong enough to remove the magic marker in one application, but it does remove it slowly in layers after a soak. But since it evaporates quickly, there's also not much soaking time, and thus a lot of repeat applications. Nevertheless, in time it will eventually remove the offending mark...and hopefully not damage the plastic surface. I only wish the GOO GONE could have been used on the offending parties before they markered-up a piece of equipment that was plenty fine just the way it was before they defaced it.

The "DO NOT TOUCH" label affixed to the tv monitor.
Now then...for the tv monitor solution. I went up to look at the tv monitor. It had a black casing with a small area on the lower left side of the frame that had some tiny buttons on it. It also had small silver SONY brand name lettering centered in the middle of that lower portion of the frame. I decided to not make a sign as big as 11.5 inches wide shouting "DO NOT TOUCH SCREEN." Instead, I made a little label about 4 inches long by .75 inches vertical with 15% black lettering to immulate the silver brand label: "DO NOT TOUCH." It should be enough. I mean, really.

22 September 2011

Sesame Street Live! at the Library

A simple web ad was created using provided art from Sesame Street Live.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of meeting Elmo and Super Grover from Sesame Street Live. The cast was in town for two days performing at another venu, and were kind enough to come by for a big hug-fest in the children's section of the library. Oh, the humanity! It was quite a scene.

The dynamic duo were actually late for their appearance after discovering they were inadvertently sent to the wrong branch (holy Count Chocula, Batman...foiled by misinformation again!). Librarians were sweating bullets, each with a phone to their ear of their panic-stricken heads, the look of blood having drained from their collective faces. Considering the attention span of the young audience, the scene could get ugly fast.

Fortunately, Sesame Street stories and trivia were fast at hand for the quick-thinking first responders, and the diversion lasted long enough for the life-sized muppets to make their way to the correct library branch.

Photos were taken during the melee and posted at our Alachua County Library District Flickr photo album here:


You can also see a local news report video covering our event here:

Marketing materials for the event included 100 handbills (shown at right), two 11x17 inch signs based on the handbill design, and a library web site ad (above).

The sound of cheers of delight and unconsolable, traumatic wailing--complete with crocodile tears--still rings in my ears a day later.

16 September 2011

Author Event: Bill Belleville

The large format poster.
Author Bill Belleville is scheduled to talk about his recent book, Salvaging the Real Florida, Lost and Found in the State of Dreams. Banana Republic might approve of his endorsement in the photo above, but for our event, I hope he wears a clean t-shirt. =)

Promotional materials created for this event included one 45x45 inch large format poster, 150 quarter-page handbills, and a web ad.
The web ad for the library website home page.
Quarter-page handbills print four to an 8.5x11 inch page.

10 September 2011

Bilingual Storytime at the Library

Collaterals included (clockwise from top left): a print ad, 8.5x11 inch sign, and web ad.
The Women's Latina League of Gainesville hosts an annual Latino / Hispanic heritage month festival which includes a library event called Cuentos Latinoamericanos / A Latin American Folktale Series / Bilingual Storytime at the Library. The library supports the leagues' efforts by providing space for the storytime event and for helping to promote it as well. The league hires a designer to create a visual for the festival and I request to use that image in the library's promotional collaterals in order to compliment the established visual and maintain consistency between the league's promotions and the library's. 

Once I secured the leagues' visual, I incorporated it into the design of an 8.5x11 inch sign used to promote Bilingual Storytime, a web ad, and an associated black and white print ad. One hundred signs were printed and provided to the league to distribute at public locations throughout Gainesville.

The league also displayed in the library a 20x30 inch easel supported poster to promote their film series, and utilized two glass display boxes to show a selection of Bolivian crafts.

06 September 2011

New Library Collection Opening Promotions

Promotional collaterals included (from top to
bottom) a web ad, quarter-page invitation, half-
page event program, and wall sign (not shown).
At the end of August, the Headquarters Library unveiled a new addition to its collection: the John A.H. Murphree Law Library collection. This collection of books was migrating over to the Headquarters Library from an independent law library that had closed in one of the nearby downtown courthouse buildings. 

To promote the opening, creation of a collection wall sign, an invitation, event program, and web page ad were all requested. I contracted the wall sign out to a local sign making company, asking them to match the specifications of other signage seen in the library, then created a simple quarter-page front/back facing invitation that was eventually sent out to 100 recipients. 

For art, I had nothing to work with directly from the collection, and with little time and confirmation on coming information, I decided to go the simple route to keep things uncomplicated and as little time consuming as possible. So I used the leather texture of a book cover as a background image, then changed the hue to a traditional "personal library study room green." To add a little interest to the otherwise flat colour, I added a spotlight effect on it, then placed gold text over it. A second layer of black text became a shadow with gaussian blur effect to diffuse the shadow. On the back side of the invitation it was even more straight-forward with the essential text set in the same background green colour and crowned with a black ACLD logo on top.

For our local television station, a Public Service
Announcement (PSA) was created that maintained the
promotional styling used for the grand opening.
The event program (front side only shown above) mimicked the invitation on front and back, this time, adding a wood framed border around the green background on the front. This frame also mimicked the actual wall sign produced by the sign fabricator. The web ad announcement picked up the same background green/spotlight treatment, then incorporated the additional elements of a judges gavel and a classical statue holding the scales of justice. All photography was located by sourcing public domain websites and then modified to suit the design used for this event.

04 September 2011

A Library Banner Headline Reconsideration

Cutting out the banner, a single image print from the HP DesignJet 800.
Last week I received a request to create a large format banner, approximately 36 inches long. Along with the request came a headline to put on it: "Escape Into A Good Book." Okay, I thought. Cool...something to encourage readers to read that will take their minds off the troubles of everyday life and focus on a little adventure or some fantasy. Then, I read which library requested it: the JAIL. 

Our library district staffs a small outreach library for the population there, and I think that's a great idea. But I don't know if putting the word "escape" on a big sheet of paper in the jail is the way to go to when promoting anything there, for fear of giving someone the wrong idea. I mean, if we were promoting a collection of escapism books based on the theme of jailbreaks, such as The Great Escape, Escape From Alcatraz, Papillon, The Shawshank Redemption, Escape From Alcatraz, and Midnight Express, then maybe we'd be on the mark. But generally speaking, I don't know if "escape" would have been the best choice of words in that environment. 

I called the librarian to double-check. Sure enough, she might have had a brief notion about using the word, but the notion didn't really sound the alarm for her. I suggested some alternatives, and she agreed that the phrase "Get Into A Good Book" would serve her purpose just as well. I then sourced through my collection of images and clip art until I found a few elements I thought would work together nicely. It incorporated the headline text plus four images: a banner outline, its filler image, a man silhouette--which also used the same filler image--and a photo of an opened book. 

The image within the banner frame was the same as within the man. Because the book lay between the man and banner, the combination of using the radiating image in both the fore and backgrounds made for an interesting in / out push / pull between the two. The foreground man was getting into the book at the same time the background was getting into him. After completing, I sent it to the librarian for review. She liked it straight away, so I printed it out and sent it to her the very next day.
36x14 inch banner ready for shipping. Metal yard stick and X-acto blade not included.

02 September 2011

Library Monthly Event Signs, September 2011

September event signs feature back packs and bags for toting school or work materials.
Ahh, here we are at last...the beginning of September. This is the time of back-to-school for children and the time of back-to-sanity for parents who can finally breathe a big sigh and carve out some time for themselves. With the burgeoning workload both students and parents alike have to keep themselves busy, they often find themselves toting portions of it around from place to place. Therefore, this month's theme features back packs and bags that we take to school or work. I'm sure the will be filled with plenty of books!

Nine of our 11 branches make use of these 11x17 or 8.5x11 signs, each sign lists the events specific to a respective branch. Because event and programs vary from branch-to-branch, some branches only require one 8.5x11 sign, while others might require anywhere from one to three 11x17 signs.

The process takes about 3 weeks, first sourcing for themed image ideas using free public domain photos or illustrations, culling the selection of possibilities down to a usable short list, and then working out the mechanics of arranging text over/within those images. By way of example, in these seven signs alone, there are 17 unique public domain photos in use. There is also four illustrated items as well. Modifications to both images and text are made during the edit cycle; afterwards two copies of each sign are printed and distributed to each branch. In all, I worked with six different bags and delivered about 20 unique pages to each branch.