Navigating the Stacks

Library Signage

It’s that time of year y’all. We’re desperately holding on to our summers when we know that in just a few weeks we’ll be deep in orientations, classes, workshops, and meetings. The important thing is that we’re not there YET and we still have some time to get in some great design projects, like today’s submission.

Dan Vinson, Coordinator of User Services and Library Assessment at Mount Mary University recently created some simple, easy-to-read, and attractive signs for the Haggerty Library & Learning Commons stacks. They’ve totally inspired me to start a similar project at my own library.

Here’s Dan discussing his designs:

I have used to create many infographics to showcase library survey results. It’s free and easy to use. You can upload objects or images. You can download your creations as PDFs, and it’s easy to edit, save, and download again! Our small academic library has been trying to make the stacks easier to navigate over the past couple of years. I created a collection guide and map (which is also posted in the library itself) last year using a Lucid Chart free trial and then we wanted Dewey Decimal explanation signs more tailored to our unique majors, such as Fashion, Art Therapy, and Occupational Therapy. I tried Photoshop with a couple of free Dewey series I found, but realized I needed Illustrator or InDesign to do what I really wanted. No time for that, so I turned once again to! All icons are free and from Iconfinder. Free’s the word!

If you’re interested in learning more about Dan’s designs, or seeing the complete series, you can send him a friendly email.

Happy 142nd Birthday!


Sometimes things get too serious in the library, and summer is just the time to lighten it up and reconnect with patrons.  To accomplish this, we decided to throw a party, but not just any party, a 142nd birthday party for our institution’s founder…and our patrons were the guests of honor.

1 (8)

Hand-lettered and drawn board created by librarian Maianh Phi

We ran with the idea of a traditional birthday party.  We created an eye-catching invitation in the library by using a large whiteboard.  We ordered a cake and made and bought birthday supplies from the party store.  We manipulated a photo of Monroe Dunaway Anderson with Publisher to make the image and invitation you see below, and then saved the Publisher document as a picture to send as an Outlook email invitation to our “super users” (super users are patrons who have attended more than two of our events or classes, or people who are frequently visit or check out books).  The idea of the party caught on and was even publicized on our employee homepage.

mda bday invitation2

Because we were celebrating someone from the past, we added an historic element to the party by displaying photographs and artifacts (you can see these in pictures below), and we placed a festive hat on the bust of the birthday boy. We also made cake toppers with Monroe Dunaway’s head on them, which were really popular with guests.  We made these simply with Avery labels and Microsoft Word’s label function.  We printed the labels and stuck them to toothpicks.

1 (1)

We had a great turnout–at least 200 people came through the Library to celebrate with us! Lots of guests mentioned that they felt like VIPs getting invitations from us. Pictures are below…and we’ve learned from this experience that next time we need to hire a photographer!  Not only were our photos mostly blurry, but we forgot to take pictures once people actually arrived!


If you are interested in any of the things we created here, just let me know.  Happy birthday, MD Anderson!




Spotted at ALA: Recovering the Classics


Despite United Airlines’ best efforts to keep me taxing on the runway, I’m home from ALA with some great designs to share.

Recovering the Classics Project - DescriptionIf any of you were lucky enough to stop by the Moscone Center West on Sunday afternoon, you would have run into the Recovering the Classics display in the open space outside the meeting room area. A collaboration between The Creative Action Network, Harvard Book Store, and Plympton’s DailyLitRecovering the Classics is “a crowdsourced collection of original covers for great works in the public domain.” The Creative Action Network is now working with the New York Public Library and the Digital Public Library of America to bring these covers to ebooks in libraries and schools nationwide.

Gulliver's Travels - Recovering the Classics Project
I’m sharing a few photos of some of my favorite covers on display, but please note, these covers are not CC-licensed to be adapted. Artists maintain copyright for their illustrations and you can purchase prints of your favorite covers through the Creative Action Network (use discount code BEA4LIFE for 10% off your order).

Frankenstein - Recovering the Classics Project

The best part? Anyone can contribute a design! I know how talented our readers are, and would encourage those of you interested in this project to submit your designs to the Creative Action Network.

Jude the Obscure - Recovering the Classics Project

Share Your Pride Month Book Display

Pride Month - Balloon Rainbow of Awesome

Photo by Michael Ruiz on Flickr

Have you created a fantastic Pride Month display for your library? Yes. Yes, you have. I’ve already seen a few on Facebook and elsewhere online, and we want to feature them here, on Librarian Design Share!

If you’d like to share your Pride display with your colleagues, send a few photos along with the usual info to We can’t wait to see what you’ve designed!

That Librarian with the Beard

Flyers & Advertisements

That Librarian with the Beard

We might be surprised by what stands out to our patrons or students about our respective libraries. Sometimes it’s a spot in the building with just the right amount of sunlight and privacy for studying; sometimes it’s a Facebook post that makes them smile; and sometimes it’s just a friendly librarian with an epic beard.

Stacy Taylor, Emerging Technologies Librarian at Adams State University’s Nielson Library, took an aspect (well, person, really) of the library that made a positive impression on students and used it to market the library’s ability to help students. It’s genius, really. Here’s Stacy’s take on this outreach effort:

Our Learning and Engagement Librarian has a very impressive beard and I noticed that students were asking for that guy with the beard or the librarian with the beard. So I created a “That Librarian with the Beard” marketing campaign and put a series of flyers with different questions all over campus. I plan to continue it this fall with questions new students frequently ask, like “Does the library have my textbook?” or “What time does the library close?” The best part is that about 2 weeks after the posters went up a student walked into his office and asked if he was the guy with the beard who could help fix her Word document.

I love the idea of taking common student questions (and perhaps some not so common ones) and using them to encourage students to meet with librarians. I can even see using this approach independent of the bearded librarian meme (although it’s so so much fun).

That Guy with the Beard flyer collection

Details on font choices (because we live for that kind of thing): The questions and hashtag font is Elegant Typewriter, which is used for all Nielson Library marketing materials and branding. The “That Librarian with the Beard” font is Franchise.

You can download and remix (don’t forget to attribute!) the Photoshop PDF files of Stacy’s design from the Librarian Design Share Google Drive flyer folder or contact Stacy directly for details on this brilliant marketing campaign.

Think Beyond Paper: Fabric Posters


In Your Eyes: Critical Reflection Through Team Teaching

Last month we featured a series of poster presentations from ACRL 2015 that demonstrated great design and visual representations of research and ideas. One of the fantastic posters we saw at conference slipped into an email abyss and didn’t make it into those posts, but we’re remedying that now.

Today’s featured design is a poster, yes, but we’re highlighting it today because it uses a somewhat unconventional material from a website that has some definite design possibilities. Allison Carr, Social Sciences Librarian, and Talitha Matlin, STEM Librarian, both at California State University San Marcos, used Spoonflower to print their poster on fabric.

Here’s Allison discussing their design process:

My default design style is minimal, which is reflected in the font selection, white space and few colors. I tend towards calming colors; we’ve used muted blues and greens for similar topics in the past and wanted to stick with these colors for our current poster. While I started with a solid white background, I ended up with a subtle pattern for visual interest. The two silhouettes represented the two of us in our process of critical reflection. We also wanted it to be easily read from further away to allow for more people to see the main points as they wandered through the exhibit hall. This meant we had to cut much of our original text to ensure that the font size could be as large as possible.
Lastly, while you can’t tell from the PDF, we had our poster printed on fabric through Spoonflower. We wanted it to be easily transportable, but were unsure about the clarity and crispness of the final printing. Many of our design decisions were made with this in mind. They had suggested specifications for size and file format (Powerpoint to PDF), which we followed. In the end, the printing of the poster on fabric was the same, if not better, quality of a paper poster and we were thrilled with how it turned out.
Have any of you taken advantage of fabric-printing through Spoonflower or a similar service? What kinds of creative possibilities can you see with this medium?
For more information about this poster, printing on fabric, and this fantastic project, contact Allison Carr or Talitha Matlin.

What Can You Do With Canva?

Flyers & Advertisements, Poster

We’ve seen an increase in the number of submissions we’ve received from folks using Canva, so we decided to devote a whole post to this web-based graphic design tool.

Earlier this week we featured library hours signage from Edita Sicken, Instruction and Access Services Librarian at Manchester University’s Funderburg Library, which she created using Canva. Edita’s also used Canva to create all kinds of library flyers and advertisements, like the ones below.

Chat Graphic

Edita sang Canva’s praises in our last post, but here’s a recap of what she loves about Canva:

  • templates
  • fonts
  • graphics
  • availability of a mobile version for design on the go

K-Cups at the Library

Kasia Piasecka, Reference Librarian at Falmouth Public Library, has used Canva to create fantastic advertisements for library events and programs, like the one below.

Breakfast with the authors

Here’s what Kasia has to say about using Canva for graphic design:

As a past self-professed Microsoft Publisher geek, I was really excited to start using a new (free!) web-based program to design publicity materials and advertisements for our library. I see my role as a librarian and as a designer as complimentary — by strengthening my ability to design beautiful materials, I am promoting the library as the incredible community center that it is. Although marketing the library is a challenge in many communities, I strongly believe that design matters [to your audience], and it makes a difference. It’s very important to market your library, your programs and resources; to carefully design your publicity materials with an eye for detail and a strategy for branding; to identify and choose the best software available to you. As librarians, we are hard-wired to find the best tool to help us, and I cannot recommend Canva strongly enough. I have been absolutely amazed by the variety of designs, presentation layouts, font choices, and overall, Canva’s user-friendly interface.

Long Haul Book Discussion

You can find Kasia on Canva and see all of her designs there, or you can contact her for more details about her marketing materials.

Advertising Hours

Library Signage

For those of us in academic libraries, it’s that time of year again: Finals Week (or impending Finals Doom, depending on who you ask). All of our laptops are checked out, extension cords line the walkways, and students begin appearing more and more disheveled as the week progresses. Our patrons are less interested in research help (all those papers were due last week!) and more interested in the amount of coffee needed to power through an all-night study session.

One thing that often changes during this time of year are our hours of operation. Extended hours during finals week, fewer open hours immediately afterward–all of these changes require eye-catching, easy-to-scan signage. Here are a few great signage submissions advertising library hours.

Edita Sicken, Instruction and Access Services Librarian at Manchester University’s Funderburg Library, used Canva to create the her library’s changing hours signage.

Extended Hours Signage

Here’s what Edita had to say about her hours signage:

I used Canva for all of these and none of them utilize any of their pay-per-use graphics. Some of the images used were our own, most of them are under creative commons licenses. I’m well-versed in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Publisher but Canva is really handy to use because of all the templates, filters, fonts, and graphic elements that are readily available. Plus there’s a mobile version available so if I’m out at a conference with my iPad and realize I forgot to get a promo image out, I can throw one together really quick!

Fall Break Hours Signage Spring Break Hours Signage

Sometimes our library’s operating schedule can get a bit complicated, which means our signage often suffers from too much information all at once.

Jonas Lamb, Public Services Librarian at the University of Alaska-Southeast’s Egan Library, recently revamped his library’s hours signage using Photoshop. Here’s the old version, which, as Jonas mentions, “often got over complicated with intersession and holiday exceptions.”

Egan Library Old Signage

You can see that the new versions follow a nice template with variations in color for different times of year. It’s a great way to highlight changes in hours while still maintaining a steady look and feel.

Egan Library Summer Hours
Here’s Jonas’ talking about this new signage:

I’d reached my wit’s end with library signage designed using Word, Publisher, PPT, etc and finally taught myself enough Photoshop to put something visually simple to refresh our existing signage.  Around the same time we began using 4×6 acrylic table top-6 sided sign holders and an 80” digital display so I had an opportunity to re-use elements of the new design into a variety of sizes and layouts, subtracting text elements where appropriate.

Egan Library Spring Hours

Egan Library Regular Hours

What are your solutions to advertising modified hours of operation? Do you have other signage you’d like to share? Or better yet, signage you want to change but aren’t sure how it can be improved? Let us know!

PDF and JPEG versions of Edita’s Canva signs are available on the Librarian Design Share Google Drive, as are Jonas’ original Photoshop files.  As always, resuse designs responsibly!

What Can You Embed in an Infographic?


Embedded Online Librarian Infographic

It can be a challenge to explain the curricular relevance of research and information literacy instruction as well as librarians’ role in higher education. Seth Allen, Online Instruction Librarian at the King University Library, has created a great-looking infographic to explain his library’s online embedded librarian program. Here’s what Seth has to say about his design:

Introducing yourself to new faculty as the Online Instruction Librarian provokes blank stares and kind but opaque replies like, “That’s nice” or “Interesting”.  Our college has been developing online degrees at a breakneck pace for the past couple of years.  We are finally ‘catching up’ in terms of infrastructure to support online students.  My position was created in the spring of 2014 to address the online needs of our students.  I was hired in the summer and I have had been busy filling in the service gaps for online students.  Despite our library’s reputation for innovation, it’s hard to break the faculty stereotypes of a staid librarian who sits at the reference desk and manages print collections.  I created an infographic to introduce faculty to my services and encourage them to partner with me in their online classes.  I think an infographic is the best medium for communicating this info, but I did not like the online infographic generators.  I could not adapt my initial sketch with a good infographic template.  I used PowerPoint instead and changed the slide size to a 1X3 width-to-length ratio.  I think the final product communicates the vision of my job nicely.

The PDF and original PowerPoint version of Seth’s infographic are available on the Librarian Design Share Google Drive for you adaptation (as always, an attribution to the original designer is needed). One thing to note: Seth used the Franklin Gothic font for the paragraph text (which comes standard on most computers) and Sketch Rockwell font for the titles (which doesn’t, but can be dowloaded from Urban Fonts).

If you have other questions about this infographic or King University’s online librarian program, you can email Seth directly or send him a tweet.

BOOlean Operators: For the Emoji Lover In Us All

Instructional Materials

BOOlean Operators

You know we love a good boolean operator graphic here at Librarian Design Share. Whether its honey badgers or grumpy cats, we’re always happy to share a nice visual that will help us teach the oh-so-useful but deadly boring concept of boolean operators. To avoid that glazed over look students get when you start talking AND/OR/NOT, why not try an emoji?

Today’s submission comes to us from Kelly Blanchat,Electronic Resources Librarian at Queens College (CUNY), whose presentation slide decks are known to impress. Here’s Kelly’s take on the graphic above, which she created using Google Draw.

In general, I try to keep my library instruction sessions relevant to students. My personal love for emoji made it an obvious choice for this graphic, but wouldn’t it also be great to use around Halloween?
Using emojis as an example can lead into a conversation about Internet resources and techniques students already use — like social media — skills that can be then adapted for library research. A good example of such a technique is to connect the idea of hyperlinked hashtags (#) on Twitter and Facebook to subject terms in the library catalog and in databases. For example, I will show students Twitter Advanced Search, as well as a few hashtags that do and do not retrieve results. From these examples I’ll discuss need for synonyms and refining search structures in library resources. Essentially the theme is, “You already know this stuff, and can apply it to your scholarly work”.

We’re working on adding a copy of Kelly’s Google Draw file to Librarian Design Share Google Drive, so until then, send Kelly an email or a tweet for the original.