18 April 2014

New Signage Design for Children's Library Collection

A newly designed signage system created for the children's collection provided solutions to serve multiple interests.

New room furnishings provided the
inspiration for a more colourful
signage system that could compliment it.
During the summer of 2013, the children's level of the Alachua County Library District's Headquarters Library was renovated. The renovation included new furniture, carpeting, lighting and ceiling panels, book shelving, and decorative wooden sculptural elements based on popular children's book characters placed on a wall and surrounding floor columns. The renovation also brought with it a brighter, more vibrant palette of colours that was applied to walls, columns, floors, and seating. 

With all the major refurbishing complete, a new set of signage was desired to update the appearance of the collections as well. An audit determined that signs would be needed for tops of bookshelves, bookshelf end panels, walls, and suspended from the ceiling. 

In the past, this library's bookshelf end panel signs were simply pieces of 8.5x11 inch copier paper printed with a range of appropriate call numbers--sometimes coupled with a symbolic illustration included on the sign, sometimes not--then taped into their location. The initial directive for me was to do something along similar lines. As I began sourcing for images to be used with bookshelf signs, I found plenty of examples I thought looked good either stylistically or thematically, but 1) the library didn't have image rights to reuse them, and 2) when viewing them all together, I came to the conclusion that I would need to re-illustrate them in order to achieve a consistent, uniform style. So for the images I liked best, I drew over them to simplify them as line drawings.
Signs are itemized in a signage intent document so that all individuals
involved in the process have an opportunity to review the 
intent and schedule of deliverables prior to RFP and eventual fabrication.

Because most surfaces in the library are angular in shape, I wanted to explore ways to counteract that with signs that featured more organic shapes. I was also eager to explore ways to integrate the new, vibrant room colours into the sign designs as well. So taking my cue from the new colour palette, I arranged the collection numbers into circles, then placed the circles partially into a larger, central circle that featured the theme image of each bookshelf aisle series. I offset the placement of the two smaller text circles so that they followed the convention of reading left-to-right and top-to-bottom. This also helped to avoid a symmetrical and linear arrangement of the three circles. The overall arrangement resulted in what I ended up referring to as a "triple circle" sign. 

The solution appeared to work well, so I applied it to the rest of the bookshelf end panel signs. After seeing the colour selections for the numbered circles, I decided I should also maintain a consistency in the way colour would be used there too. So, for example, the 800-900s circle portion of a sign should remain the same when seen on any another sign. 

In addition to the triple-circle signs, three different single-circle signs were also created: large 10-3/4 inch signs--one for magazines/audio tapes, and one for early readers; a set of six inch circles that displayed alphabetical letters for the picture book collection; and a single six inch circle sign for the ending numerical range of the triple-circle series.

Placement of bookshelf top paper 
sign for on-site testing and review.
For shelf top and large area ceiling signs, a full circle would take up too much room, so I flattened circles into ovals and placed collection section names into those shapes. The tops of the ceiling signs and bottoms of shelf top signs would have to be flat so they could run parallel to the surface they would be attached to, so I designed a cut to begin at a reasonable distance from the sides of the sign lettering. 

Because ceiling signs would need to be seen from two directions, two different 1/8 inch acrylic signs would need to be made, then glued back-to-back. Together as one unit, the new ceiling signs would make use of the same hardware of hooks and chains used to suspend the old signs. 
Back of bookshelf top sign shows 
construction of "L" brace.

For shelf-top signs, they would need to lean back slightly so they wouldn't tip over. I wasn't certain if the acrylic could bend into an "L" shape or not, so I first designed it that way, but  deferred to my external sign vendor for his advice. He suggested that it would be easier to create an "L" shaped brace made of another material, then glue it to the back of the sign for support.

Before final signs were ordered and fabricated, I printed out all but the ceiling-mounted signs to use for a few months on location as a field test. This way, I could see if the proposed designs were adequate in size, work well for public navigation, and be aesthetically pleasing. Feedback from both youth services staff and patrons were overwhelmingly positive, so the concept was approved and I moved forward to work with the sign vendor on securing price quotes, working out technical aspects of the fabrication process, and creation of final digital files.

Cutting out full-scale paper prints for on-site testing.

On-site testing of paper signs temporarily placed to check for 
aesthetic value, proper sizing, and sufficient public navigation issues. 
You can see one of the older signs still in use hanging above the bookshelves.

On-site field testing of paper signs 
served their purpose but were by no
means intended to be permanent.
The design for the entire new signage system called for using 1/8 inch acrylic with a printed colour vinyl backing. Using a clear acrylic would allow light to enter the face of the sign and illuminate the brightly coloured vinyl print affixed to the back, making the colour even more vibrant. Wall and bookshelf mounted signs would use 3M double sided tape to adhere the sign to its location; the ceiling signs made use of the existing hook and chain hardware used to support the previous signs. 

The complete signage project included the following items:

Three double-sided 48 inch ceiling signs suspended by existing hook and chain hardware
Nineteen 6 inch circle alphabet bookshelf end signs 
One 6 inch circle numerical wall sign 
Two 10 inch circle bookshelf end signs
Nine 14.5x10.75 "triple circle" bookshelf end signs
One 23.5x3.25 inch bookshelf top easel backed sign
One 11.5x3.25 inch bookshelf top easel backed sign
Two 12.5x3.25 inch bookshelf top easel backed signs

A shot of the fabricated signs before installation. Only sign not included in shot was the large ceiling sign for Picture Books.
Views of completed acrylic signs installed.
Detail of one of the "triple circle" bookshelf end panel signs.
Completed signs installed on bookshelf end panels and ceiling.
A view of bookshelf and ceiling mounted sign in the picture book area.

08 April 2014

Promotional Design for Library Speaker Event: Kimberla Lawson Roby

45x45 inch large format display poster.
A standard 8.5x11 inch page 
accommodated space for four handbills.
Author Kimberla Lawson Roby spoke at the Alachua County Library District in January 2013. A variety of marketing collaterals were used to promote the event, ranging from print, online and television broadcast advertisements, posters and signs, leave-behind handbills, and an invitation image to be used in email blasts.

The publicity materials utilized a consistent design style of the author's photo along with covers of books from her Reverend Curtis Black series.

A public service announcement advert also served 
as an image embedded into an email invitation.
Promotional collaterals created to promote this event:

250 quarter page handbills
30 8.5x11 signs
1 newspaper print advertisement
1 website banner advertisement
1 public service announcement (PSA) advertisement
1 email invitation image
1 45x45 inch large format display poster

A website banner ad followed in the style of the print collaterals.

05 April 2014

Promotional Marketing Design for Library Speaker Event: Author Bill DeYoung

45x45 inch large format display poster.
One of two print advertisements.
Author Bill DeYoung provided two good quality images of himself and his book cover for use in promoting his author event at the Alachua County Library District in January. 

By "good quality" I mean sufficient for a decent print reproduction quality at the size the images are would be seen. Image quality is determined by two factors: the resolution of the image (for example, 72 pixels per inch or "72ppi" is sufficient for digital media reproduction but not printed documents, whereas printed documents reproduce better at higher levels such as 300 dots per inch or "dpi"; a suitable number is dependent on the scale you might adjust the original sized image to).

In DeYoung's case, both his book and headshot images were low resolution 72ppi images, but the dimensions were 11x16.6 inches and 6.6x10 inches, which allowed them to be scaled up larger without significant noticeable image degradation for the size I wanted to increase them to. A third image of the bridge I used in the web banner was also a higher quality image at 7x3 inches, 96ppi. The higher quality of image sizes ensured a higher quality visual image for each promotional piece created.
An 8.5x11 inch page provided 
space enough for four handbills.

Promotional materials created for this author event included:

One 45x45 inch large format display poster
One website banner ad
Two newspaper print advertisements
100 quarter page handbills for Headquarters Library
100 quarter page handbills for two libraries

Library website page banner ad.