New Library Website Master Post

Are you interested in what went into the making of our new library website?

DDoS Left Me with TinyURL

I noticed immediately something was up when I couldn’t load Twitter. As the publicity manager, it made things a little annoying at work yesterday since I had some tweets to send out. However, it really got my goat when I was forced to use TinyURL for a short URL instead of Bitly which was apparently also a victim of the attack. It did bring to the forefront an idea I’ve had for years: get our own custom URL shortener. I already have an idea of what I want it to say. It’s a secret for now until I see if I get approval for it. Anyways, here on my glorious (ha!) flyer, you can see the impact of the DDoS attack:

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

Yesterday’s production items also included an author poster, creating a FB ad, and making a handful of digital signs. Then I kicked Outlook on desktop repeatedly as it ate my first weekly events email that I’ve sent out in a few years. By eat I mean that it randomly added a hard line breaks into two blocks. Since the email design is based on columns, this set everything else under it to wiggle sideways in confusion. I tried duplicating a working block into one of the bad spaces. That was fine. As soon as I changed the text, it acted up. Then a lovely tech support lady from MailChimp spent an hour helping me. She couldn’t get it stop happening either.

Ah! I have lots of plans for this email. I’m guessing that by Christmas it’ll look entirely different.

Finally, I had a one-on-one. Their original item they had asked for tech support wasn’t available, so I taught them how to use another device instead. The main thing I took out is that I love having a phablet. It’s big enough to see!

Almost Made It

I was off today thanks to Columbus Day, so I get to back up to yesterday’s adventures. Namely, I was on help desk for three hours and it was somewhat quiet enough in the afternoon that I could get some work done like switching out the Art Gallery page. I also finished the Mini Golf website, launched the FB ad for the event, sent my first press releases (nerve wrecking), and worked on the weekly events email.

With the email, I’m especially anxious to get it perfect each week before sending it to the two reviewers. It was once remarked that I care a great deal about the emails (as an admirable quality, I think was the intent), so I need to live up to that. That being said, I added three new features as my first act:

* Added a photo next to the Did You Know…? so it stuck out.
* Added a link to the previous video in a lecture series for the next meeting.
* Added an audiobook from Hoopla which means unlimited download opportunities. That is, you won’t eagerly click through only to be disappointed that there’s a waiting list. My colleague Stephanie selected the book for me. This feature is meant to be a filler for weeks when we have an uneven number of events.

I discussed with a colleague my idea of changing the events email to be more demographics focused. She thought it was a good idea. Now to see if I can add anchor links to an email so people can just hop to the section they want. I believe I’ve seen that in Smashing Magazine’s emails…

At the end of the day, I was foiled when I did a test print of the author flyer I designed. InDesign keeps putting a dark box for the backgrounds of transparent images. Our logo is on this flyer and… it’s ugly. I’ve seen it do this to dropshadow text too. I don’t know how to stop it from happening. My usual solution for transparent PNGs is to open it up in Photoshop and color the background to the same as the one it’ll go over. This is a terrible workaround. Got any ideas on how to stop this from happening? What I’ve seen on forums is “you need to do all this special conversion setup in the PDF before you export it” which seems like a really broken aspect of this program if so.

Two Hour Surprise!

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been busy. For my first hour time slot, for instance, I had three things scheduled. Surprisingly, I got all three accomplished. The rest of the day…not so much. What threw me off was the invitation to resume joining the stats and department updates meetings. Way back in the old days, I used to attend these. I have my own little world of stats to report on (emails, video uploads, DML) and got to hear about publicity opportunities. At some point, I stopped attending. Now I’m back! I came out of the meeting in a good mood with actionable items I could take care of immediately. Plus, I like being in the know. :-)

So what did I get done today?

* Processed and edited a new video
* Did stats
* Had a one-on-one with a patron
* Finished a flyer
* Sent two banners for printing
* Finished two different flyer sizes for Mini Golf
* Met with my colleague to discuss a schedule for me to review her email newsletter each week (we all have to work together on these. It’s easy to miss something)
* Tried to figure out what error was happening between JotForm and Outlook so emails weren’t arriving

Tomorrow I’ll be on Help Desk for three hours and still have to finish up the Mini Golf website before launching it. We’re starting our real publicity push on Mini Golf tomorrow, so it needs to get done ASAP.

The Big Day

Today I attended the public services meeting to tell them what I heard from them, what we’re going to do, and future goals. I think it went well enough. My handwritten notes from my meetings with departments comes out to 13 pages in Google Docs. I distilled that into two handwritten pages for the meeting. Topics covered:

* Timeline (give me six weeks notice for most items)
* What is staying the same
* What is different
* We’re going to use a JotForm to send me publicity requests
* Some goals to strive for (mostly with analytics and audience research — gotta get my UX in there)
* Budget info
* All designers are moving to using InDesign for anything we want professionally printed
* I’ll be using Asana for project management. You’re welcome to join the board to see how the project is progressing
* Moving to content calendars for email newsletters and social media

Questions I received were:

* How are you going to prioritize requests? (Fundraising wins. I’d like to eventually get a rating system on what get priority)
* What does the form looking like?
* Will we have emails in the future for non-events but to highlight the Library’s story and services? (Yes!)

I then reassured them that this is all an evolving process where we’ll change things as needed to meet real world conditions. I scrambled to convert my Google Form to a JotForm post-meeting. Then I sent the form off to three of my colleagues to look over it.

This is also my first week taking on our weekly events email and press releases. I have some ideas for how to change up the weekly events email to be more useful. Once more of my old duties have been transferred over to the rest of the UX team, I’ll work on A/B testing my ideas.

Overall, there’s a lot more things to do than I have time to do them. Last week’s creation time of posters and flyers + extra desk time + staff meeting, really ate up my time. This week I’m taking Thursday off to make up for working on Columbus Day. So my schedule tomorrow is double and tripled book in some slots while I try to get everything done. I’m hoping that eventually we’ll hire a PT graphic designer to help with this. It’s a lot of work for one person!

New Camera + Web Writing

When I took staff photos earlier this year, I borrowed the CL’s camera which is a Canon Rebel T5. My boss purchased a Nokia to replace the UX’s tired camera. The first staff photos I took were washed out and lacked the depth of detail the other camera was capturing. Then Manny, our videographer, worked with me to reset the camera to be more compatible with a lighting environment he could use for film and I could photograph in. I still have to drag the lights down to a certain angle, but I can now take photos of our new staff without too much hassle. They’re not as good as the original photos, but they’ll pass. So this is how I spent 3 hours last week — tracking the new staff down, taking their photos, sending the photos for selection, and then editing before getting them online.

I then made 10 new digital signs and created my first flyer meant for distribution outside of the Library’s building. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be — mostly because the author’s headshot is stunning. Hopefully I’ll finish it on Monday and can then share it on here. The work I’ve spent on it so far is 90 minutes.

The other assistant director — my boss is one — called me in for a meeting to discuss designing temporary and permanent signage for our first floor. The temporary ones aren’t too scary, but the long-term ones certainly are. The building’s current aesthetic is small all-caps metal signs above doorways. I guess they’re 4-5 inches in height. She mentioned using other materials to design the signs. This is absolutely no pressure, whatsoever. It also goes on that list of “things they never warned you about in library school.” I have about two weeks to do research for the temporary signs while we shift collections around on the first floor.

I then finished the day off by answering emails and correcting content on the website. It looks like we’ll need to have a web writing class so I can get everyone on the same page. For instance, drop the double spaces between sentences (Slate has a funny but convincing article on the topic). I’ve already converted one staffer to embracing headers. It’s now time to get the others on board. I wasn’t really apart of the “how to use the website” classes taught by my boss prior to the new site’s launch since I was busy pulling content from everyone. So with a little help, I am looking forward to getting this straightened out. In fact, I was reassured that branding like this is part of publicity. This is something I used to be heavily invested in, but outgrew the emotional investment in a few years ago. Time to bring it back.

Posters, Posters

This is the week of posters. Yesterday I sent three off for printing, then asked for a repeat of one. Today I designed a new one and then had it along with a repeat of a missing poster I created last week printed out. Tomorrow I’ll be designing a flyer. I’m tired right now so just the barest of summaries.

This day was an emotional one for staff as it was the day of the funeral for my colleague’s husband. Many of the staff went, so we were short staffed. My colleague helped me out by taking an extra hour of the additional desk time asked of me so I could work on the Mini Golf website. Responsive web design can be very aggravating when trying to display sponsors’ logos in a cohesive way for three different breakpoints. I was then on desk for three hours. I came home very tired.

Staff development day. Four hours of workshopping with a lady with a “that makes me feel like home” Southern accent. I’m somewhat amused that I got some compliments on my stick figure sketches when you know…that’s not my “real” art. Ah, the angst of the ~artist~. Then I called to learn about the cost to advertise at a location we’ve had our eyes on for years. Made that futuristic (in the laziest way ever — just took a photograph of Shanghai at night and flipped it upside down) poster, and answered emails.

Friendly Face

The field trip to meet a neighboring publicity person which I mentioned yesterday…? She loved the doughnuts I brought! Now that I’ve had hours to digest the visit, I can say that I am absolutely stunned and floored by her generosity and kindness. She let me ask her questions about how she runs her department, how tasks are distributed among her staff of three, how she gathers info about events, what PR book she recommends, how to make friends with the community PR people, and which blogs she reads. The enormity of this is really just sinking in for me now. I’m not sure what I expected when I went over, but this was above and beyond any expectations I might have had.

I mentioned it over on Twitter. Librarians have been warm and friendly, but none have ever reached out to me to welcome me so thoroughly into a new role. Hell, it’d never occur to me to do that either. I’ve gotten in contact with some of my local UX/techie people at surrounding libraries, but I certainly didn’t invite them over to welcome them to this particular aspect of the profession. In other words: let’s learn from her and reach out to others who have unique positions in the libraries surrounding us. I was a little lonely as the UX librarian/web person in the face of so many roundtables dedicated to reference, youth, and RA. I can’t say enough good things is what I’m getting at here.

The other news is that I was invited to step forward into a potential new endeavour. We discussed it at work and I was granted support to go after it. I think info about that will come out around the first of the year. It’s not a set thing, but is a possible stepping stone in my professional development and giving back to librarianship in a small way.

Side note: how awesome is it that President Obama wants us to go to Mars by 2030? That’s some JFK levels of inspiration there.

Otherwise, I continued work on making two different types of flyers for our upcoming fundraiser. One of these days they’ll choose a new theme/image and then I’ll have to make these things entirely from scratch again. In the meantime, I’m just shifting sponsor logos around trying to make them fit. I also had to check on our Vimeo account. For some reason which I can’t fathom, a bunch of videos from our web series aren’t on that platform. This makes no sense to me. Fortunately, it’s just a question of uploading the footage and then organizing it so the videos are in order.

Getting My Publicity Manager Work In Order

Summer Loving
I just realized that it’s been nearly two months since staff were told about my new role as publicity manager. It’s been a long transitional period. My awesome colleague Alex left us two weeks before the website launch which shifted the workload around a bit. My other teammate took most of it, but the little incidentals and knowledge base Alex managed soon showed up. So over the summer after the site launched, my time was spent catching up with all the publicity requests and answering questions. One-on-one requests popped up like flowers after a rainstorm. It was a busy time.

New Job Catch Up
Once I was placed into my new role, my first task was to interview department heads and key people about their publicity workflows. I also stuck questions in there about their hopes and pain points. This took place over the three weeks till I went on vacation. I was gone for two weeks. When I returned, it took four days to get through emails and to a point where I could breathe again. Within half an hour, I broke out in a sweat and came down with a stomach bug for two days. It wasn’t fun. However, dawn broke through while I was on vacation when we hired our new Senior Tech — the much needed fourth in our department.

Press Release Contacts Spreadsheet
So now here I am seven weeks into the new job and I created my first two spreadsheets. One to get the list of all PR contacts. My sheet has more columns than necessary, so I hid ones which I won’t use much (fax, home number). This is all kept in a folder on Google Drive.

The PR Contact sheet has these fields: Venue, Contact (how often/when), Website URL, Type (blog, newspaper), Name (of Contact), Email, Cell Number, Home Number, Fax, Twitter, Send them…? (meaning what their interest is), and Notes (best for fundraising). I created the multiple phone numbers and fax columns since one of the people have that as part of their contact info.

Press Release Template
Then I tried my hand at a Press Release template. I used the one my colleague Mallory uses and changed it to have my name on it as the contact person then wrote a draft of a new boilerplate info about the Library. When I sent it back to her, we discussed how to handle this tricky area and decided to keep her name on them. She would know more about the specific programs. My job here is to just send the emails outwards.

Publicity Knowledge Spreadsheet
Next I created a spreadsheet titled Publicity Knowledge. This is a place to track publicity duties and who is responsible for what and why. The above discussion about whose name goes on the PR is a good example of something to document. Right now I have six items on the list. As I go back over my meeting notes, I’ll likely fill in more spaces and figure out how to put that into my schedule.

Stepping Out
I’ll take my first official step this week by sending out the PR pieces on Thursday morning. Next week I’ll take over our weekly events email. I’m excited about that since I was in charge of it before. Since I’m obsessed with email stats, I’m looking forward to all the little experiments I can try to improve what we’re doing. Mallory and my other colleagues have been so gracious in letting me set up A/B tests in the past. It’s just going to be great to control that from an end-to-end perspective. However, our individual event emails are still going to go through Mallory and the Children’s Library’s person. I’ll just be getting a schedule together to make sure we’re not bombarding patrons with emails.

Tomorrow I’m going on a field trip to meet a fellow publicity person at another library. I hope she likes Dunkin Donuts!


On Friday, we learned that my colleague’s husband would likely die over the weekend. I hadn’t known. He died that night. She reads this blog sometimes.

You and the boys are in my heart. It’s the best place I can offer. When you’re ready, tell me that story again so we can look into his family’s genealogy. Maybe we can find something new. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. He made you so happy and even I, a mere coworker, could see what a wonderful light he has been in your life. I hope he saw your art exhibit. The boys will continue to grow strong and mighty in his wake.

Mini Golf Lawn Sign

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

We’re gearing up for our upcoming Mini Golf fundraiser. I hit up several items on my to-do list over the past two days. This is the first time I’ve made a lawn sign, but it’s more or less the same design as the poster and flyers I’ve made for the past two years. What you’re seeing here are the samples I took to my boss. Once I looked at the print out, I noticed that they needed more padding. My boss then choose his favorite layout.