Four Layouts of Summer Reading

Our library uses the incredible art of Lisa Nowlain for our children’s summer reading program. It made it significantly easier to develop the web pages which support our four programs (pre-readers, kids, teens, and adults). This week I found out that even when we print out the trees at the size of children, they still look fresh.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Landing Page
To start my work, I sketched out a bunch of layouts for the children’s page. The head wasn’t there when I dropped by the Children’s Library, but her staff choose the design. The layout is almost identical to the Darien Olympics theme of last summer. I then selected my favorite for the landing page for all four programs. It took awhile as I had to create a large PSD file and duplicate the trees across it. The original wooden sign has tiny legs. I duplicated and extended them a little to complete my desired look. The buttons below are not what I wanted. However, the little wooden signs which fill up the brochure don’t work for the web. I have no idea why. So I used the plain ol’ generic default Bootstrap button for our website. I could have chosen another color, but the blue was the best default option.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Kids Page
Likewise, on the kids’ page, I cut off the legs on the sign to make it shorter. The PDFs are massive. I tried to squish them, but it became illegible. Maybe the watercolor background contributed to that? The location of the images is a little funny in order to make it usable on mobile. The tall tree and the kids collapsible below the information. Trying to get the blocks all to the same length was frustrating.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Teens
The background image for the teens page is from another artist (I’m unsure if he wants the attention). I struggled mightily with how to handle all the information on the teen page. The photos are all public domain. The struggle on this page are those movie covers. I ended up giving up on this yesterday. There are actually two more movies. The layout is a row with three columns. Each column has a row with three columns. When I blew the code out so I could look for the problem, it didn’t make sense. There should be enough room in it for up to 12 covers. But when I add in the extra ones, the images disappear and the date wraps to the second line. After 90 minutes, I finally gave up on it at the urging of my coworker. I’m displeased with that, but every tactic I tried failed. I don’t want to have rows with five or six images in it because then the covers are too dominating for the page.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Adults
I worked closely with colleague Virginia in developing the Adult Summer Reading page. She rejected my original header image and sent me three new ones to choose from. I selected the beach chairs. The challenge here was to keep her from the burden of creating a booklist for every single item on the Book Bingo Inspiration list. I managed to find some stuff on the website that would work. Then tasked her with developing 5 or 6 new ones just for this purpose. Her funniest chat was “What steampunk novel would you recommend?” for the new genre list.

The Book Readers Festival is another iteration of reusing Lisa’s artwork in new ways. I needed to make a flyer in a hurry so it could be posted around town. I opened up Canva looking for inspiration. I spotted it right away. Then I adjusted it for the design you see. It now exists as that image + flyer + poster which hangs over the front desk.

Marketing
I’m copying the URL of the pages into a Google URL builder, setting up the tags, and then copying that link into Bitly. I look forward to seeing what the numbers look like at the end of August.

Children’s Library in the Forest

We’re celebrating Camp Darien this year. My colleague took this photo of the Children’s Department and it was then sent to me to clean up. After 3.5 hours of scrubbing (while on desk), I then dropped it into a forest background. The forest background took about 30 seconds. At that point, I could have gone on to try to make it merge better or found a better background. My colleagues are happy though, so I’ll let it go. :-)

Publicity Award Winners

My library had the great honor of receiving three awards for our publicity this past year: our website, poster, and thematic (three or more related pieces). I have, pictured here, the items which were done mostly in my hand. Krishna gave generous assistance in the development of the Escape the Laboratory poster.

Lonely Planet Bookmarks

Lonely Planet Sign

Lonely Planet Digital Sign

Lonely Planet Digital Sign

Lonely Planet Sign

Lonely Planet Shelfmarkers

Genealogy for Kids Program

Today my colleague Krishna and I hosted “Discover Your Family Story” program for children grades 3 to 6.

Participants will begin a family tree, learn how to conduct an oral history interview and learn about library resources that can help you discover your family story.

The materials took me four hours to put together. Do my research, design the program and the craft project (seen above), cut out 12 trunks and leaves and 200 nametags for the trees, and put together the handouts. The most interesting part were people texting their relatives to ask, “What were the names of your grandparents? I only knew them as Pop…”

This Week’s Small Victories

I’ve been rather busy at work to the point where I’ve had to turn people down who bring me last minute project requests. However, I’ve managed to complete these tasks:

* Analyze 3 months of email data on our weekly events email
* Recycled a four year old poster for a last minute request
* Designed the images needed for a double-sided physical giveaway
* Create a new poster for a festival
* Turn around-on-a-dime a new fundraising page
* Came up with a (clever-to-me) hack to make the fundraising page more mobile friendly using a button, anchor links, and white text
* Figured out how to draw a family tree diagram as an actual tree for next week’s genealogy class I’m teaching to children
* Do a complete sign and printed materials photo audit
* Started the professional development resource I’ve been asking Twitter about (the sortable, filterable, and search feature randomly broke, so it’s a WIP)

There’s also been an unusual new patron pattern. Four times in the past week, I’ve helped someone and then they look me in the eye, smile widely and say with more affection than I do for most things, “I love you.” Maybe everyone just needs a little love right now?

Image Finding

Not centered

Today one fundraiser ended so I was free to change out the header images on our website and social media accounts. This turned out be a tough challenge for our website. My general topic was “flowers, spring.” I hunted around my favorite public domain image sites. Over the course of an hour, I checked nine images. The final one made it up though it’s not exactly what I wanted. Conditions for the frontpage image:

* Wide enough
* Not too dark
* No white background (text is white)
* Not too busy
* Image can’t be centered since the search box and text is there
* Bottom right center has to be dark for the text
* If focused on a single object, it can’t be centered

Since I decided to do a last ditch promotion of the Big Library Read, I tried to find a nice pie image. There were some good ones to choose from, but they didn’t fit the conditions above.

Stretching

I visited a library which caters to library professionals. While browsing the stacks for new books, I found my attention caught on more than just titles directly related to my new publicity job. As I pulled volumes down, I noticed something. This book on fundraising? Yeah, I spend a lot of time worrying about that now. This one on strategic plans? I have spreadsheets working towards that goal. How about data analysis and visualization? Yeah, those spreadsheets will hopefully work towards that goal. What are your thoughts on administration and management? See all those emails and concerned with how projects are coming along. I was even tempted by books about building projects.

When my boss approached me about rotating to this new role, he had said something about it giving me room to grow. I admit to not quite believing him. I had been unofficially working in this area since practically the day I was hired. How could creating formal workflows change things? But with his hands-off approach, I’m allowed to roam and find new areas to explore. It’s surprising to see how much further I can see now. The concerns of all departments are even closer to me now. I’m tracking the numbers, reporting them, and looking for ways to extend our reach.

I wasn’t expecting there’d be so much further to travel.

Collapsible FAQ

A little piece of work which I’m fairly happy with is this collapsible FAQ for our new WiFi page. It’s just some Bootstrap.

Closed:

Open:

It took a few variations to figure out the best layout for it. Originally I had screenshots from a Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, and Android phone. Then I downsized and dropped the iPad. It’s listed first here since it’s the most common iOS for our users.

How’s It Going + Bitly Realizations

A small thing came home to roost today: 50% of my job now is emailing people reminders to do stuff. I’m giving myself reminders to email people to send me info for publicity items I’m making or promoting for them. I’m not actually making a lot of things at the moment since I’m busy tracking who owes me what for which program they’re hosting. Or to ensure that everyone feels included in contributing ideas for social media promotional materials. Today is World Poetry Day for instance, so I emailed five people to ask for a favorite poem to share. Then I snipped a stanza for a tweet, grabbed a custom short URL, and posted it to Twitter with a link and hashtag.

Social Media Ads
I’m also trying VERY hard to not obsessively check our Twitter and Facebook ad stats. We’re about to wrap up a several months long publicity run for a fundraiser. Once it’s done, I’ll compile a big report listing all our publicity efforts stats. Then next year I’ll clone the Asana project so we’ll know what items we have to do in the next round.

Note: we’ve been casually buying FB ads for awhile. I’m now obsessively detailing the stats in a new Google spreadsheet.

Bitly
Speaking of custom short URLs, we purchased dar.to to use with our bitly account. I showed key players how to install the Chrome extension and use it to tag their links. We’re using the links in social media, emails, and some linking of items on the website. This turned out to be a bigger dive than I anticipated:

* It doesn’t appear that you can further customize links once you have a custom URL in bitly.
* In order to get bitly links to show up correctly in Google Analytics, I’d need to run the original URL through a special Google tool. Then take that new URL and plug that into bitly. I’m saving this for something special.

We did get our first custom URL to show up in a newspaper printed press release. This is very exciting!

Weekly Stats Emails
I’m also spending a fair chunk of time creating stat emails which I send out:

* Analysis of how the previous Friday’s weekly events email did in terms of opens and clicks.
* Outreach on which events were mentioned in the two local papers and social media highlights.
* On/off again email to my boss on what marketing pieces I created this week and who I held meetings with. I often get too busy to follow up on this one.