Make it Beautiful, Make it Usable: DIY Design for Libraries

About the Beautiful & Usable Workshop

This workshop focuses on adapting existing ideas, learning materials, lesson plans, presentations, signage, marketing materials, and learning activities into more beautiful, usable content. Basic instructional design practices are introduced, then basic graphic design concepts and methods. Participants bring something they wanted to reinvent - a worksheet, a PowerPoint presentation, an interactive tutorial, a video, a LibGuide, etc. Guided by a Design Checklist and relying on a curated collection of recommended tools, participants work individually, in groups, and with the presenters to update their learning objects.

Access the Google Drive Folder: Tools & Materials

2016 Brick & Click Presentation

Do you plan on attending this interactive presentation at the 2016 Brick & Click Conference? We can't wait to meet you! Please fill out this super quick survey so that we can tailor our presentation to you! Feel free to look through the Tools & Materials Google Drive Folder, and don't forget to bring an object (and your laptop or tablet) to work on!

2016 Library Collective Presentation

Curious about the level of expertise of participants? Or do you wonder what kinds of materials they reinvented? Then check out the results of our survey from the 2016 Library Collective Conference!

6 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong With Your Research Assignments (and how to fix them)

This fall marks the 2nd anniversary of our involvement with our university's general education curriculum. That equals 4 semesters of flipping the classroom, spending one week with each 200 and 300 section, and adapting our classroom content for Internet classes as well. It also means that we've seen A LOT of research assignments--about 40 per semester. Below is a presentation we gave at a faculty teaching conference to help instructors build better research assignments. Oh! And Slides Carnival + Death to Stock Photo is now our favorite combination for presentation slides.

Reference Desk Signage For a New Semester

So, the beginning of the Fall Semester is exactly opposite of skipping through a field of daisies.  And because sneaking sips of an adult beverage at the bottom of the file cabinet isn't always an option, I like to turn to another outlet: doing a creative and fun task even when you should be doing a million and one more important things. In our Ref Desk Redeux, I gave you a how-to and some best practice guidelines for creating signage (in short, don't make ugly shit). So here is my cathartic creation for the reference desk. Feel free to download and use at your library's reference desk!

Tools Used: Evernote & Penultimate for iPad (where I originally brainstormed the content for 5 or 6 sign ideas), Piktochart, Adobe Kuler, and advice from my gals Melinda & Dani.

Reference Desk Sign

Ref Desk Redeux: Go Ahead

GoAheadAskME So here's the deal. A little under two years ago, our library embraced a trending equation: circulation desk + reference desk = one service desk. The desk itself has two levels; there is a high, walk-up side for circulation and a low, please-have-a-seat side for reference. On the wall above and behind the desk, the words "service desk" are neatly mounted, their sans serif font and silver, matted sheen appearing in a large and effective manner.

This signage is classy, sure, but Dani and I recently found ourselves desiring something a bit more... fun! Something to make the desk less intimidating and more approachable. We've come up with lots of signage design ideas, and we'll be sharing them with you here through Ref Desk Redeux.

But wait--it gets even better! We'll also give you free printables that you can download, along with tips and tricks for creating your own rad signs. I know, I know... you're welcome.

And now, the how to:

What you'll need: This super fancy desk sign holder, Mircosoft Publisher, and a color printer

Step 1 : Think of a simple, clever statement to draw in your patrons. Try to be at least 50% funny.

Step 2: Open publisher and start experimenting! I highly recommend the following:

  • Choose brightly colored backgrounds (you can change the background color by clicking the Page Design ribbon, then selecting the drop down arrow under the "Background' icon).
  • Use more than one font, but no more than three.
  • Do not, ever, under any circumstance (including the temptation to be ironic) use Comic Sans. Instead, try a combination of typefaces to add variety or emphasis. In this example, I used Segoe Print and Segoe UI Symbol, which are both fonts that came loaded with Publisher 2013. For more help choosing non-cheesy fonts, take a look at our Typography Downloads Pinterest board and check back soon for our tutorial on finding, installing, and using free fonts from the web.
  • Make sure the thing is readable. White lettering looks great on colored backgrounds, just make sure the background color isn't too light. You might also have to change the colors after testing the printed color, which will vary a bit from what you see on the screen.
  • Don't give in to the habit of aligning all the text to the center, nor to the middle of the paper. While this option may work great for certain signs, why not play around with different asymmetrical options?

Step 3: Is it pretty? Is it catchy? Is is fun? Not sure? Ask for patrons' opinion. Once you get a few green lights, print 'em! If you use a sign desk holder similar to the one mentioned above, you can print out two versions in two separate colors, then spin the sign holder around every few days to keep people on their toes (okay, this part isn't necessary, but I'm pretending that there's scientific evidence to support my hunch that changing signs often will keep patrons' attention and prevent signage from "blending in" to what their eyes are accustomed to).

So tell me, what kind of signage do you have for your reference desk? How often do you change it? Do you have any signage design ideas to share?

Dear Students,

Sorry, no textbooks!

The first week (month?) of each new semester is filled with interactions in which we crush the dreams of a flood of new students when we have to inform them that no, the library did not buy enough copies of every textbook for every student. Sorry!

In a (probably futile) attempt to remind students that the library is not the same as the university bookstore, we made some nice, clear, colorful new signs to place around the library. We don't know if it really helped, but it made us feel better.