Librarian Design Share

inspiration for library creatives



Readers’ Advisory in Horoscope Form

Readers' Advisory Horoscopes

Our latest design comes to us from Christina Gehring, Adult and Teen Services Librarian at the Hennepin County Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In it, Christina proves that the long arm of readers’ advisory knows no bounds!

I know plenty of friends and patrons who regularly read their horoscopes. As I was looking at some new astrology board books one day, it occurred to me that horoscopes might be a great place to insert some library propaganda.  I have a revolving monthly display in front of the reference desk, and it took just a few hours to make these for an astrology book display.

I used the website eAstrolog to find monthly horoscopes, and took out and rewrote some predictions that I thought might lend themselves to book recommendations.  I found the images for the bookmarks by limiting a Google search with “labeled for reuse.”  My reading suggestions only point to genres, library programs, and services rather than titles to allow the reader to tailor the suggestion to their taste. Sometimes I added that they could ask their librarian for a more specific suggestion. My coworker had the great idea of adding famous literary characters and authors at the bottom, which ended up being one of the most frequently commented on aspects of the bookmarks.

The bookmarks were put out at desks at libraries across my library system, as well as shared on social media.

You can download the original Microsoft Office document with all of Christina’s literary horoscopes or contact her for greater detail about her designs.


Librarian Design Share at ALA

Going to Las Vegas for ALA Annual Conference? We are too! April and I will be presenting a poster about our work on Library Design Share on Saturday, June 28 from 12:30 – 2:00 pm in the Conference Center Exhibit Hall, poster station #17. Stop by, say hi and watch us try to color-coordinate our outfits to our poster!

If you aren’t able to come to Vegas, take a look at our poster below. If you want to reuse any design elements from the poster let us know in the comments section or send us an email.


Librarian Design Share ALA 2014 Poster

Read the Rainbow

Read the Rainbow: Literacy in Pantone SwatchesWe’ve featured a few different book displays on Librarian Design Share since our blog began, and I have to admit they’re my secret favorite thing to post. I don’t really get the opportunity to create displays for my library, so I think posting other people’s displays is my way of filling a personal design void.

This fantastic display comes to us from Leanne Mobley, MLS Candidate at Indiana University and the Center Supervisor at the Willkie Library, Indiana University Residential Programs & Services Libraries.

Read the Rainbow: Literacy in Pantone SwatchesHere’s Leanne in her own words:

For the month of April, I put together a “Read the Rainbow” display to highlight our fiction collection. The display is an homage to the classic Pantone paint swatches. I rounded up a handful of books with vibrant covers and then used the eyedropper tool in Illustrator to select the main color featured.

I also ransacked the paint swatches at our local hardware store and covered our bulletin board. We mostly circulate DVDs and music, but our patrons are really enjoying the display and seem to be taking notice of our fiction collection.

Read the Rainbow: Literacy in Pantone Swatches

April and I both love classic look of Pantone color swatches and can easily see this display replicated in academic, school, and public libraries. Really any library with a fiction collection would be able to do this!

If you have questions about the display, leave a comment. For the Illustrator files that accompany this display, contact Leanne directly.

Flood of Information

Sometimes when bad things happen, you brush them under the rug and pretend they never happened. Other times, you have to address them, embrace them, and then celebrate them. I’m so happy that our library did the latter after our leak last year. We were lucky to have the institution’s full support to repair our space. Once we did that, we decided to throw a party to recognize those who helped us and to welcome back our patrons.


When designing the invitations (above) for our celebration, our library felt that it was important to keep the theme very similar to that of the leak communications. As a group, we brainstormed ideas that would go with the droplet, and we came up with the idea of using an umbrella. It’s a protection device, and that’s what our role was during the leak–protecting both our collection and our patrons from harm. I presented the following designs to the library to vote on:


I used clipart umbrellas from Microsoft Word, filling some with colors and changing the outline colors.  I combined the umbrella image with multiple clipart rain droplets that I previously used.  This design was OK, but it felt like the library had endured more of a flood than just a few drops of water…so I used the curvy line drawing feature in Publisher to insert a “flood” that runs to the umbrella.  Our staff overwhelmingly voted for the flood rather than the drops, and they liked the simpler umbrella best, so we had an icon for our party invitation and publicity efforts.

This design opened a floodgate of ideas (sorry for the pun, but get ready for a lot more to come!).  We decided our party would include a self-guided “Flood of Information” tour, which would highlight the different spots in the library that were affected, as well as connect those spots to a fact about our services.  Each station, named after songs that we thought exemplified the experience, was an exhibit: we had a tape line that showed how far the water flooded; we displayed damaged books; we had pictures and videos from the leak; and we showed a video about disaster recovery.  The five stations were easily found with a map that was coordinated to blue paper droplets taped to the floor.  Below is the two-sided map we distributed to our guests (and I won’t even go into the boring details of making the map, although it probably took longer than any other part of the design!).


To make our party even more personalized, after the tour, we invited guests to enjoy homemade cookies that all of us on staff had baked.  It was a warm welcome back for our patrons and a real celebration of our successful recovery.

If you are interested in any of the designs above to modify for your own recovery or celebration, let me know.

Grab Some Popcorn

We recently moved our entire DVD collection out to the open stacks in our library. They used to be behind the circulation desk, and anyone who wanted to check out a movie had to look up a title and request it or browse through pages and pages of our DVD listings in a printed binder.

To celebrate our new browsable DVD collection, we toyed around with featuring librarian and library staff movie recommendations on the tops of the shelves and via social media. I came up with the posters below. They’re my less creative, i-can’t-use-illustrator-so-photoshop-will-suffice versions of these minimalist children’s book covers and re-imagined movie posters. I also threw in an advertisement for our library’s new Films on Demand Subscription, to go along with our movie emphasis.

Citizen KaneFilms on Demand Poster

I didn’t get a chance to brand the posters for our library, and ultimately, our library decided to go in a different direction with the publicity efforts. Even though these posters didn’t get used I thought they were still worth sharing in the event that someone else might use them or be inspired to great better versions!

Muriel's WeddingEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

If you’re interested in the Photoshop files of these posters, email Veronica Arellano Douglas.

Branding Your Library

We librarians tend to make a lot of help sheets and signage to assist patrons as they use our resources.  That’s really what Librarian Design Share is about, right?  But even with best intentions, we don’t always fully think about the way our publications as a whole look and feel to our patrons.

I think Librarian Design Share would be remiss if we didn’t talk standardizing the look of your library’s publications, or branding, if you will.  Brands can highlight something unique about your community (perhaps it’s near water or you’re known for an historical event), your library (maybe you have an awesome stained-glass window or a spiral staircase), or it can be based on something more abstract, like colors, shapes, or even text.  We based our library branding on the pretty rainbow of colors our bound journals make on the shelves.  Everyone has bound journals on their shelves, but there’s something about the color arrangement and the mass amount of them that make the way they look in our large, light-filled space memorable. Here’s our general publication header that can be copied to any document:

new brand

Whatever standardization you decide upon should happen across the board–from all the pieces of paper that a patron might see in your library to your web presence. This is our website’s look:

8-6-2013 12-10-59 PM

I thought my library was well on the way to doing this, but a quick audit of our documents online and on our slat wall exposed at least three previous brands that are still in use on our handouts.

old brands

Yikes, you know what my new project is…

Think about it terms of your favorite store: their shopping bags have the same look as their store signage as their website, right? So should our libraries.  It’s about making things more consistent in the minds of our users. More simply, it’s about showing our users that we care enough to keep things updated, neat, professional, and easy for them to digest.

If you have great examples of a branding campaign you’ve created and implemented at your library, we’d love to see them! Consider submitting them to our site and sharing them with your colleagues.

Hjørring Public Library: Sleep With the Fishes

This is the last post in our series on Hjørring Public Library in Denmark. It’s a little late (sorry, Martin!), but trust me, we saved the best for last. Here’s Martin Jørgensen, Digital Librarian, to tell you about a truly amazing library display:

Here in Scandinavia Nordic crime fiction (Nordic noir) is all the rage, and a lot of our patrons check out crime fiction. Only trouble is that there is a good deal of different crime series to keep track of, so at first we made a simple catalogue, listing the order in which the novels and series should be read. We wanted to make a cover and visual line that related to the genre of crime fiction, suspense, gore and even killing. That theme quickly developed to different ways to kill off books.

sawed books

Books were sawed in half with a chain saw.

shot books

Books were shot! A coworker is also a hunter, so he took a pile of discarded books, shot them and smeared red paint all over. (By the way, guns are strictly prohibited in all forms in Denmark except from hunters.)

book gun

Discarded books were made into bookguns with the help of power tools. Photos of all killed off books were taken for the cover of our crime fiction catalog and the shot, sawed, and cut out books were put on display in the library.

drown poster

For our most recent version we decided to drown the books mafioso-style with chains. With the help of the local Nordsøen Oceanarium we got permission to drown books in one of their huge aquariums, and photograph and film the process, which now can be seen online (the title “Mord i serier – Seriemord” roughly translates into “Murders in series – Serial murders”).

So now our Sleeps With the Fishes project is a package consists of a new cover and updated catalogue, a commercial movie, display pieces (aka. the drowned but now dry books), posters, slides for infoscreens, and roll-ups.


Book Club Displays in a School Library

Full disclosure: I think Mary Chance is a display genius.  I had the pleasure of working with her and creating displays with her years back at a high school library, and she taught me everything I know about Microsoft Publisher and crafting with paper!

Mary has since moved on to be the solo librarian at Alvin Junior High in Alvin, TX.  She told me that she no longer has time to develop and design all that she wants to in her library, so she is training students to help her.  Mary says the students come up with the design, and she just makes it possible for them to execute it.  Her only rule with the revolving display is that the existing one cannot be taken down until there is a replacement.

The library hosts many book clubs each year, and often well-known authors make an appearance (Eoin Colfer is scheduled for next month). The students design a mobile poster to promote the book club, and Mary rolls it through the school during lunch periods to attract interest and talk to students about the featured book.

Below are Mary’s latest book club displays for Beastly, Unwind, and The Adoration of Jenna Fox, and you can see that she has taught her students well.

photo (50)


DSC03664 (1)

Contact Mary Chance if you’d like to know more information about her displays.  Parental permission was obtained before posting these pictures.

Hjørring Public Library Part 2: Library-Wide Display Themes

Campfire Display

Part 2 of our 3 part series on displays at Hjørring Public Library continues with a great example of designing an entire library’s worth of displays around a single theme. Again, here’s Digital Librarian Martin Jørgensen on his library’s display philosophy:

When it comes to displays we try to make a theme going through the entire library. Right now the theme is “5” because, the library was opened 5 years ago. The “5” displays are a broad range of subjects: 5 things to do in the garden, 5 philosophers, my 5 favorite comic books and so on. Other themes have been more abstract, like “Brown” which had displays about East Germany and a huge collection of gravy boats (brown gravy is pretty much a Danish national dish).

American Dining Car

Martin has shared some images from the library’s theme “Meals,” which included “ (among other things) beautiful set tables (made by a store nearby), herbs growing on the shelves and a model made by me [Martin] of an American diner.

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