20 July 2013

Library Children's Area Renovation Grand Opening Invitation, Program, and Web Banner

Completed event invitation shows front and interior pop-up sides.
Exterior illustration went fully around the back and included the library logo.
First attempts to work out mechanics of the invitation folding and
integrated design relationship with the program are shown here.
In July the Alachua County Library District's Headquarters Library celebrated completion of a "rejuvination" (coined by me to play off the word "juvenile") of its Children's Area. A new coat of paint covered walls, new carpeting hit the floor, a colourful selection of new furniture livened up the space, collection stacks and the librarian station were upgraded and repositioned, and to top it all off, a decorative wall mural and set design was built to surround columns to create a "Snuggle Up" center.

I knew as far back as March that an event would be held to celebrate the completion, but it wasn't until May that I even had an idea what was being proposed for the decorative set design. The date of the event wasn't confirmed until only three weeks before it was to take place, and confirmation of speakers at the event not confirmed until the two days before the event. It is precisely because of this kind of lag in event planning and execution that a smart, pro-active designer needs to be able to work in advance as much as possible in order to have a design concept approved and project files prepared and essentially ready to go--save for whatever eleventh hour changes in language might be required. That way, making a few last minute changes won't be as big an issue as trying to start the entire set of collaterals would be. 

Showing use of artist renderings on
the invitation (front) and program (behind).
Once I was able to get my hands on a pencil rendering of the proposed set design, I began to develop a general concept for an invitation and event program. The plan was to either use the pencil renderings as the only artwork on the event collaterals or to use them in combination with photos of the finished spaces in a "before and after" style. Eventually, due to the lack of time between completion of set construction and the celebration event date, I went with rendering art only as the style. 

A highlight of the architectural decoration was to dress four vertical posts with free-form elements cut out of plastic Tyvek or a similar material. These elements were then mounted to the columns and ceiling to create a "tree," complete with leaves and even a tree house for one of the children's book characters. I used this architectural feature as inspiration for the event invitation, choosing to make a pop-up card out of the rendering of the planned set design. 

Program front (top) and back (above) continue use of the
artist renderings and introduce colour in a symbolic nod
to its completion.
It took a number of trials before I could work out the perfect placement of the art on the page in order for a fold to work out well. I would print on both sides of 110lb card stock, fold in half and use an x-acto blade to cut sections of part of the page to enable me to fold it in the opposite direction of the folding card page so that when opened, a shape would be created that emulated the shape of one of the set design columns. I liked that I was able to use the artist's rough concept rendering of the planned work because I felt it lent itself well to an unpolished, child-like quality children could relate to well. It took a number of trials (the variety of attempts shown in the photo) to position the artwork on both sides of the page and the mechanics of the cuts and folds before I could get the pop-up to work out perfectly.

The program was much easier to execute. It was a flat half page front/back card stock, featuring a new artist rendering of the column on the front side, then the same invitation front rendering shown again on the back side of the program, introducing a couple of colours on back to emphasize the column and differentiate it from its associated hanging features. Adding colour to the artwork was to symbolize its completion since taking a photograph of the finished construction wasn't possible in order to  print the program in time for the event.

To round out the promotional collaterals, two website banners were made for announcing the approaching celebration event and later a more generic one to reinforce the newly refreshed space were made. This is where the "before-and-after" visuals were finally put to use.

Two website banners announce the celebration event (top)
and ongoing reminder of its rejuvinated status (above). 
In all, project requirements 
included printing, trimming
die-cutting and folding of 
300 invitations, 
100 programs,
and two web banners. 

Photos taken of the construction phases and of the celebration event can be found on the library's Flickr account at www.flickr.com/acld.

08 July 2013

Library Newsletter, THINK...Summer 2013

Television Public Service Announcement for THINK....

Summer 2013 cover of THINK...
The library's free Summer newsletter issue of THINK... arrived in July. This issue covers current news and over 800 scheduled events from July through September. 

The print edition of 2,750 copies is delivered not only to all library branch locations but also to select non-library businesses to extend its reach further into the community. Online copies are also available on the library's website at, http://aclib.us/news. This issue's visual theme utilizes youth, teen, and adult Summer Reading marketing images and in-house modifications thereof. The large, black shovel image topped with a rainbow on it was taken from one of our library renovation invitation and program designs and
also plays into the "Dig It" theme.

04 July 2013

2013 American Library Association PR Xchange Award Winning Marketing Design

Front and back views of winning entry for Materials Promoting Collections.

In June my work for the Alachua County Library District was named as a recipient of one of the American Library Association's PR Xchange Best of Show awards in the category of Bibliographies / Booklists / Materials Promoting Collections $6M - $19,999,999.  

Formerly called the “Swap & Shop," the PR Xchange Best of Show competition is specifically for public relations/marketing materials designed to promote libraries. Chaired by the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the ALA, entries are evaluated based on content, originality, and design by a team of experts in public relations, graphic design, communications, and marketing who then select the winner(s) in each category. This year, nearly 250 entries in print and electronic formats were submitted from over 90 institutions including public, academic, school, state, and special libraries. All winning entries were on display at the ALA conference in Chicago from 23-27 June. 

Surprisingly, I never even knew this event was part of the annual American Library Association (ALA) conference until January of this year when I happened across news of it while searching for something else online. The deadline for entering was only a few weeks away, so I hurried to gather up a selection of materials then narrow them down to submit them one-entry-to-a-category as required by the rules. 

While I'm pleased to receive a Best of Show acknowledgment for my library marketing design work, I have to say that I would have much rather been recognized for any of the other entries I considered far more important and vital to my library's effort to promote itself. Projects such as the new welcome brochure which went through a tremendous amount of concept rethinking, rewriting, branding design integration, paper selection, and printing process coordination; or, the "I Am The Library" employee recruitment campaign which was developed and distributed in multiple formats, including print, online, and even television broadcast commercials; or THINK... the quarterly newsletter that transformed from an unsophisticated and poorly uncoordinated jumble of cheezy dated clip art and uninspiring photography with unappealing colour text boxes that contained every typeface known to man set in mis-matched sizes from story-to-story…to become a well thought-out and focused publication executed with some sense of design integrity and sophistication. 

In comparison, my bookmark that won in its category was the least important item I entered. In fact, it was the very last item I selected from among a collection of other bookmarks in the same Book Talk: Book Discussion series. The strength of the bookmark design I entered was carried forward by a prominently placed book cover with a powerful illustration on the front panel, then on the flip side was sprinkled with a few smaller book covers and their associated single-sentence book descriptions. Compared to my other more labor intensive entries, there was barely any design effort placed on my pre-formatted brochure that won in its category

All that being said, there were definitely many fine examples of marketing design in the PR Xchange Best of Show, clearly deserving accolades of their own. When the award recipients were announced, I was happy read which libraries won in their respective categories. I was even more happy to see what the winning entries looked like after organizers posted images of them into photo albums onFlickr.com at www.flickr.com/photos/97060948@N06/sets/. Being able to see what won in previous years will help practitioners of marketing design to appreciate what had been submitted in the past and also to see where the bar of visual standards are when considering to submit future entries.

I hope that the Florida Library Association (FLA) where my library is located will take careful note of the diverse range of visual marketing tools used to promote libraries and move to add these categories into their own annual awards competition. At the moment the FLA only recognizes website design as the sole manner for promoting libraries. So if you're a web designer, good for you! You have a chance to be recognized. But if you promote your library through any manner of print, you'd out of luck because, after all, who would put an ad in the paper or magazine, or design a brochure, or a flyer, or a poster, or a banner, or a handbill, or an event invitation, or a program, or a newsletter, or a logo, or a display, or a building signage system, or a vehicle wrap, or an integrated branding campaign?

Read about the Best of Show at PR Xchange and link to the entry form where categories are listed:

See links for complete list of 2013 PR Xchange Best of Show Winners as well as a link showing the winning entries on Flickr: