Monday, April 10, 2017

What’s design got to do with it?

We’ve often joked about the fact that we judge books by their covers, but be honest, doesn’t everyone?  I know in our library the books with intriguing covers get more checkouts and require less marketing.  Good covers simply “sell” themselves to our readers.  On the flip side, books with plain, poorly designed covers, just don’t circulate well.  Recently an author commented that a poorly designed cover sabotaged his book’s success. 

When you think about it, our library programs have a lot in common with book covers.  What we show the world can determine if our patrons choose to spend time in the LMC or if they decide to go with the overwhelming number of other things competing for their attention.  Actually, we’ve been thinking about this a lot this year.  Recent trips to the METC and MASL conferences only reinforced what we’ve been feeling.  At the METC conference we attended a design workshop that focused on the art of using fonts, colors, and arrangement to get people’s attention.  The design workshop at MASL highlighted all the free resources available to weave good design into all aspects of our library program.  The common theme - there are no excuses – everything you put out there needs to be carefully planned and define who you are.  Basically, we are no different than a retailer who is using purposeful marketing and design to attract business.  I love this quote that often appears when I am downloading a flyer from Canva.  It sums it up perfectly. 

So, how does good design really impact a library program?  In our program, these things are impacted the most:

·      Branding – Having a mission and vision statement is essential, but it must also be reflected in your physical and digital space. Consider a logo that sparks recognition and invites others to ask about your program.  Make sure the arrangement of your physical space matches your vision.  Think about your website – not only are layout and design important, but the things we post there must be in harmony with our goals. 
·      Marketing – Kids are busy and we are competing for their attention.  If programs, workshops, book clubs, resources and events are worth planning, they are worth the time and effort it takes to create quality, eye-catching marketing materials. 
·      First/lasting impressions – Is it just me, or does it seem like every time you make a quick run to the store without makeup and in your oldest sweatpants, you run into everyone you know?  My friends know I typically look more put together, but imagine meeting someone for the first time looking like a mess. The chance to make a stellar first impression is gone.  The things we create in our library are the same – flyers, displays, social media posts, website content – they should always be well-planned and your best effort; not hastily thrown together.  You never know who you are reaching for the first time!

This says it all!  Happy designing! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Clarity! It's the Secret Sauce!

Becoming Future Ready, transforming spaces, adding makerspaces and production studios, genrefying collections and more! There are amazing things happening in libraries across the country! It’s a great time to be a librarian!

Sounds great, doesn’t it. Now, let’s get real for a minute. How many of you out there are seeing and hearing about amazing things happening in other libraries and you’re just feeling frustrated or stuck? Can you relate to any of these statements?

  • I don’t have the budget.
  • I don’t have room to make any studios.
  • We don’t have the technology.
  • I don’t have another librarian/para working with me.
  • I’ve tried adding a makerspace and it failed!
  • I’ve tried moving things around in my library and it had no impact.

I hear you, my friend. I’ve been in that place and my visit was way too long! I didn’t make those statements up. Those were all my thoughts and words. (And the list could go on!! ) It wasn’t until last year that we discovered what was missing. No, it wasn’t space, money, creativity or staffing. (Those are some pretty great assets, but those alone won’t cut it!) It was a plan, a roadmap, a why. We needed a clear VISION!

Once we had defined our vision, all of the pieces started falling into place. Seriously! We went from feeling frustrated to being driven! Here’s what worked for us.

  1. Observe and Take Notes - Who is using the space? Who is not? How are they using the library?
  2. Dream Big - What do YOU want? What changes do YOU want to make? Take some time to think about and jot down your wishes and dreams.
  3. Reflect and Evaluate - What are the strengths and weaknesses? There are lots of tools you can use to do this. We used the Future Ready Libraries framework, our annual library student survey data and our observations.
  4. Take Time to Process - Gather all of your observations, notes and ideas. Look for big ideas or themes. These big ideas and themes are your VISION!
  5. Get Help From the Outside - Find someone that you work well with to help you. They don’t have to be another librarian. We enlisted the help of our Instructional Innovation coach. Read your notes to them. Tell them your vision. They will pick it apart and ask questions to help you clarify.
  6. Spread the News! - Once you have crafted a vision that you feel represents your goals, share it! Share your vision verbally to others every opportunity you get! The more times you share, the clearer your vision will become. Eventually it will just be who you are!

There’s nothing magical about our mission. It’s pretty simple actually. It took us several months to go through the process, but it was totally worth it!  Our vision drives every decision we make.  It’s our secret sauce to success!!

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