Teaching and Learning

I went in late today as I was teaching a class this evening. My first scheduled thing was to schedule all the Twitter and Facebook posts while I’m away, but instead I spent an hour realigning content in the new museums brochure. I’m thankful that Publisher allows you to drag guidelines down. In the future, I’m hoping to teach my coworker InDesign and the importance of Swiss grid-based design. All this lead to conversations about the price of printing the brochure as plain (text) paper or cardstock (cover). We’re likely going with cardstock.

Two meetings were up next: the publicity background meeting with reference and the other with the children of the Kids Advisory Board. The second one was a little unexpected. I’ve written about it before, but the kids in this town are wicked smart and well-informed. After an hour of listening to them bring up local events, world events, and politics, I had to know where they were getting their information from. They responded: newspaper (New York Times in particular), around the dinner table, and overhearing grownups. I’m in awe of them and all the advantages they’re having in life. When I was six, I watched the nightly news and read the newspaper. However, since things were going down in my life and as the oldest child, I was a bit too busy to pay that much attention to what I was reading really meant. Still, these kids are great. They also liked the new website and found it more browsable.

I then pulled together my materials for “Achieve a Paperless Office” class. Last time I took a stance of setting up a fake desk with piles of paper, CDs, note cards, business cards, etc. spread out all over it. Then throughout the discussion, I’d point out how to digitize and replace that paper with a digital version. The class started off rocky since I wasn’t in the groove yet and the students kept asking questions. Fortunately, things smoothed out and at the end, they were very excited when they left. I’m not entirely sure we got to where I intended for them to go, but they guided the lesson with all their questions and discussions. I was thanked warmly at the end of the evening. Next class: online safety at the end of the month.

My UX office-mate and I discussed what I’m looking for in publicity management software. His concerns were about people having to type in the content twice. One in my form and again on the website. I don’t think there’s a way around that. Sure, our boss and him could build something, but that’d likely be a long time from now. My current thought process is to integrate Asana with Google Sheets. We used Asana for a bit last year, but fell off it in favor of just keeping a running commentary in Slack. That was alright but I want something clearer.

Finally, my boss handed me off a postcard to redesign. The original was conceived this summer by a seasonal employee, but will need a bit of love to get it ready to go. There’s no time to work on this before I leave. i feel bad, but…time.

The Staff Art Show

Today’s the day! The artists brought their work in and I was surprised to be joined by two of my colleagues in hanging the show up. It took us three hours and lots of going back and forth on arrangements: keep people’s own stuff together followed by theme, then by color/size. For example, textile art was put together as were the drawings.

Hanging art is hard. If this was more formal, I would have busted out the full materials for measuring and placing. Instead we relied on a tape measurer, a ruler, a pencil, and our eyes. This failed more often than not as we then had to redo the placement of the nail.

Overall, I’m very happy with the show. My colleagues seem happy too. We’re having that mini reception in the UX office on Friday to celebrate.

I was asked to takeover Snapchat today, so I documented the show going up. If you want to see it, friend us at darien.library and check out the story. Now the Library’s friends are showing up under my personal Snapchat account…

Publicity for this show involved the website page and social media posts. Since it wasn’t 100% certain who would be showing, I didn’t bother with a newspaper press release. Still need to make a digital sign to finish up promotion.

Finally, my second piece to show was of a costume design for a 1960s era “The Importance of Being Earnest.” I took costume design in school and felt this was a bit of a different piece than everyone else’s so we’d have enough variety.

Less Than a Week to Go

I’m heading to New Zealand next week. As such, my days are made up of preparing the Library for my absence and squeezing in last minute things. Today my boss visited the office in the afternoon and asked how my day had been. Since I had woke up after only 4 hours of sleep, everything was kinda a haze. I just bulked down and powered through what needed to be done. This showed itself as:

* So many emails.
* Reminding staff that tomorrow we put our pieces on display for the Staff Art Show.
* Finishing and printing out labels for the Art Show.
* Created the Book Groups monthly email and bookmark.
* Create the webpage for the Staff Art Show.
* Arranged for a private reception for the Art Show to be hosted in the UX office.
* Attempted to find out how much Instagram ads cost. There wasn’t an option to select Instagram as the platform!
* Prep for Thursday’s “Achieve the Paperless Office” class. I’ve taught it several times, so it should be straightforward.
* Wrote thank you cards to the people I interviewed for step one of my job: how publicity currently works.
* Fixed a JotForm issue.
* Schedule a final publicity background meeting. Going to the admin suite!
* Setup a visit with another publicity person at a nearby library.

The Book Groups email is a big production. Aside from getting the content from the coordinators and putting it together, I needed to orchestrate the other piece: the video we include in the emails. Usually I do all of this, but with my absence…

* M will film, edit, and deliver the video to my boss.
* J will then upload to Vimeo and YouTube with my prepared script for him to use.
* J will send Ma a link to the video. She’ll then go into MailChimp, paste in the link, and then schedule the email to go out. I’m running an A/B test on it in regards to subject lines, so she needs to make sure the scheduling respects that.

Everyone kept assuming that my tiredness is in relation to my trip. Nah, that’s next week. I’ll have my nightmares then. But for now…

Tiny Characters

The most interesting thing I did on Friday was write an email telling a staff member of all the changes I made to their publicity piece (alignment, spelling). Once I was done listing out the precise things I done, I realized she likely didn’t care and it’d hurt her feelings. So I highlighted it, copied it, and pasted it after the closure. Then I brought the font size down to 8 and turned it to white characters. This gives me a place to look for if she really wants to know what I did w/o having to retype it later.

Otherwise, met with another department head (everyone needs time to plan out what programs they’re doing. The PM should push them into taking the time to do that), made a banner, worked on the Staff Art Show, and setup the website to encourage September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Not a bad day all-in-all.

Checking My List

I forgot to blog for a few days. Oops. I wrote on Monday that my schedule was a bit hectic. All my time has been spoken for at this point and it breaks into 56 different segments over the course of 37.5 hours. This isn’t bad in some ways, but it also makes me feel like I’m not actually getting anything done. All those small tasks are important and they stick together, but at the end of the day there isn’t anything…big and substantive about it necessarily.

I started work on a bookmark and then sent it back and forth with my two colleagues. We’re having a Snapchat September or something, so I had to make a panel teaching people how to add the Library as their friend. It’s pretty cute — my new colleague did a great job with setting this up. The Staff Art Show is next Wednesday so pressure is on for everyone to get everything together. This led to two more people dropping out. It’s disappointing since this is probably a one-time-only thing, but…

I spent the biggest chunk of time working on my email situation. That new PC is cool and all, but 3,000 emails didn’t transfer over correctly via Outlook. I setup the two PCs on opposite sides of the room (where I had monitors and power access) and went between the two of them to see how bad the trouble was: entire folders and subfolders were missing. Eventually I deduced the likely culprit as an Exchange error that happened five years ago. Some folders created around that time were never recognized by the server and thus they and all their contents simply didn’t exist outside of my PC’s Outlook. My colleague suggested I create a new folder on the old PC then move all the folders into it. This worked. Strangely, emails still disappeared. The losses appear to be sporadic so I called it a day. Total time fixing this issue: four hours.

The main things were meeting with the facilities manager about her publicity needs, weekly check-in with my boss, and then going on desk for two hours. Those hours were rough. Due to an event, I had no backup and was trying to keep 3-4 patrons happy at the same time as I rotated between them. I later estimated that I must have answered 20-22 distinct questions/tasks over the course of two hours. One billing system a patron needed to access completely failed her. I tried every method I could to get it to work, but that government site was down and out. It was disappointing to have to send her on her way without resolving the issue in full.

I got to see a friend! She was just passing through, but it was lovely to see her and have lunch.

Aside from that, I tested out a new camera. The results outside the Studio are pretty good. However, this morning I was called upon to suddenly do a photoshoot for a new staff ID. We’re trying a new thing where I don’t move the Studio equipment much and try to use it just as it is. I mostly stuck by this tactic, but moved a screen in front of a light to defuse it a bit more to soften it. Just as I got that into place, the subject of the photo walked up with her boss. The photos were…not great. The lady is lovely of course, but the quality compared to my other photos is garbage. Next week I’ll have to work at getting the camera setup for these lighting conditions. I’m not looking forward to that. The last time took hours to do as I’m not a trained photographer, so I’m just moving things and then checking the results each time till I find the sweet spot.

The bookmark from earlier in the week continued to be a challenge. I have a template in Pages I use which mostly works. But the transparent background of the Library logo was printing out black. The internet failed to fix this. Ultimately what “solved” it was putting the PDF in Photoshop, doing a select, sampling the color, then paint bucketing the color over it all. That worked pretty well! Then my colleague printed it out on the cardstock. The whole thing was now black. Fortunately, I have gained some knowledge over the past five years and realized the issue is with the way the cardstock resists absorbing the ink. So I opened the PDF up again and brought it down to a much lighter purple than desired. That worked, but it is a little lighter than we had desired.

Finally, I looked into using Zapier for the publicity workflow I’m dreaming of. The current idea is to use JotForm > Google Sheets > Trello. But the question is, can Trello write back to Sheets? The struggle is a way to make it easy to push a project through the publicity workflow while also capturing data so we can analyze it later in a spreadsheet. I’m hoping to find other library marketers to learn what they’re doing. My current Twitter follower list are people who likely are interested in me due to my old UX title. I’m afraid of alienating them, but I have to get ingrained with the new community. It takes a village to make a librarian and I am looking outwards for those lights to lead me down this path.