NoveList posted my colleague’s write-up of the Book Matchmaker project.
I’m going on vacation next week, so I’ve been slamming through hurdles as fast as I can. So far this month I’ve designed 11 bookmarks (10 which had multiple designs per side), 3 posters, 2 banners, 2 postcards, digital signs, email designs, editing web pages, scheduling social media, and editing images left and right. Then I swung out my rubber cement and glued down two posters.
The coolest thing by far was getting to take photos of the children’s librarians. Then our local fire chief took the camera from me and told me to go hop in the photo. I’m often left out of cool photos as the photographer of things, so this was an unexpected joy.
While this graphic design stuff was happening, I was also working hard on following up on all those emails. I had some cool ideas recently, but of course, this means I have to write it up. We had our annual stats review this week too. I spent 90 minutes compiling a picture of how our social media, emails, website, and Digital Media Lab has done. The week is just half over. I’ll have to continue to hustle as fast as I can over the next two days!
No images of today’s work since I tossed out most of it when I was finished with the design process. My tasks for the day were to create a print ad and a double-sided bookmark. For the ad, I created 11 layouts. The first two were digital versions of the sketches that were handed to me. From there, I worked out different arrangements of text, font sizes, colors, adding a border, adding images, until I came upon the final design which was accepted. As you scroll through the previous designs, you can see how I slowly tipped my chessboard towards it. Each idea sliding downwards until I arrived at the final image.
I printed out the proofs, marked my two favorite, scribbled a note of guidance, and left them on the requester’s desk. Later, when I returned to pick up the pieces, he had also chosen my favorite one. While checking and re-checking the layout back in InDesign, I got frustrated with the tools. I nabbed the metal ruler from my colleague’s desk and held it up to my iMac’s surface. Then I slowed nudged the text box into place.
For the bookmark, I had looked at the theme idea last week in some confusion. I poked around on the web and found a bunch of photos for a moodboard of sorts and uploaded it the shared drive. On Friday, my colleague wrote back that I was close, but not quite right. I took her words, spent 2 minutes googling and found a lovely stock illustration. She loved it.
Today I started the work of creating a bookmark from that image. I’ll admit, these bookmarks aren’t quite the thing of dreams. I’m a little crunched for time, so it’s more important to get them done than perfect. For this project thought, I made a dozen or so layouts with different words and color choices. Sent it over. After lunch I had my response back. I then laid out 4 or so designs for the back and sent it back. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get the sign-off so I can mark it as done.
We’re pushing a deadline of Friday here for these ten bookmarks. I’ve gotten works-in-progress drafts for six of them now. Once staff sign off on them, I can move them to the finish pile. The goal is to have all of them back from the print shop by September 1st for National Library Card Sign Up Month.
I’m in charge of putting together our weekly events emails. As such, I’m interested in discovering patterns, developing hypotheses, and testing my theories. All in the name of providing a more useful experience for our patrons. Each quarter I do an analysis to look for new insights, check out the answers to my questions, and ask library stakeholders for guidance on what we should test next.
Our findings for April to June:
* Do email opens go up if we send emails to low open users on Thursdays as opposed to Friday? The six-week test showed that it doesn’t make a difference.
* Out of the two subject lines we test each week across three segments, two segments usually choose the same one.
* Opens decreased in the spring, but not as drastically as I thought.
* New subscribers’ open and click-through rates dropped drastically from winter to spring.
* Email unsubscribes and bounces decreased. The numbers are small, so it looks very impressive to say “We had a 26% decline in unsubscribes!”
* We’re gaining email subscribers thanks to the form on our website.
* People do scroll all the way to the Did You Knows. We know this thanks to the click-through rate which is comparable to items higher up in the email.
Next round I’m thinking about testing:
* Does the age category of the featured event affect unsubscribe rates? I believe the answer is yes, but am eager to see if that theory proves true.
Of course, I need to look at this from a longer perspective as well. Perhaps in December, when things usually slow down, I can compare some of my numbers loosely to the 2013-2016 numbers.
Next month will mark one-year since I transitioned from UX Librarian to Publicity Manager. I spent the first few weeks meeting with staff to learn what they thought I should be doing in my role. I then went on vacation for a couple weeks, so it wasn’t until October that I really began active work in my new job.
There are some differences between my work as a new UX librarian to where I am now. The most noticeable is that I used to have lots of flexibility in my schedule. If you talked to me on Monday or Tuesday, I could probably fit you in that week. I only looked one week out at the tasks I had to accomplish. Now, my schedule is filling up 3-4 weeks in advance. I’m trying to protect a precious hour every day for sudden requests. Unfortunately, those five empty hours usually get taken up a few days in advance. I moved to that system of “grace time” back in February — two months before my boss asked me if I had built in such time. :-)
I’m using Asana and Google Calendar to maintain my sanity. Thanks to the repetition of many tasks, as soon as I complete it, I add it right back for the next round for the following month. So my to-do list technically never gets any shorter.
Without further ado, here are the main tasks I do as the Publicity Manager:
* Watch and report on stats/analytics
* Look for how the Library is mentioned online and in printed newspapers
* Plan actions based upon those reports
* Meet with staff to help them develop their publicity items (and often, just brainstorm things out to their final conclusion as we look for trouble spots to take care of in advance. I did this as a UX librarian too)
* Document formal publicity plans based upon those meetings
* Create publicity items (even with the help of staff, there’s still not enough hands to fulfill all our dreams)
* Monitor staff’s progress on their projects and remind them to send me their materials
* Make content for social media (text, images, find/make gifs, videos)
* Find time to do research for my own projects
* Learn new publicity techniques and keep up with software changes
I’m curious as to how my role will continue to change in the coming year. I’ve got a few ideas on what key tasks I want to accomplish.
Note: that’s a photo of my desk from December. I now have a bulletin board covered in persona index cards, terrariums, printed out reports and projects, and inspiration pieces.
One of my jobs as publicity manager is to help departments find opportunities to work together on programs and services. As such, I found out their general program themes for the year. I then grouped these together in our wiki under two organizational schemes: by department and by season.
The information is pretty general so it remains flexible. For instance: Summer Reading Kick-Off: June. It doesn’t list the program theme or the actual start date. I arranged the seasonal information by ABC order. By department, by time.
I then immediately made use of the new resource by linking to it in an email for publicity planning, “Need help thinking ahead as to what we’ll be up to in this time period? View the seasonal program guide.”
I gave myself one hour to figure out how to do this project. I tried in vain in Photoshop and online tools. So I ended up using Keynote.
I met with one of the assistant directors today about publicity. The meeting was triggered by a self-evaluation I had sent staff a month ago. When I became the Publicity Manager, I sought to find out what people wanted from a PM. I carefully took notes then typed it up. After six months, I then went through and evaluated where we stood on those requests. Outstanding issues were marked in red. Those hold ups could be because I haven’t gotten to it or cannot be accomplished due to technical, funding, or staffing reasons.
Today’s meeting was an hour long. I’m happy to say that most of the things we discussed were things I could answer with an outlined plan. Several projects were already in the works with scheduled meetings to move forward on. I’m happy that I was able to anticipate some of the requests ahead of time.
My sixth anniversary is next month, so this feels like a good place to end this fiscal year.
For an internal presentation, I developed a slidedeck based on the months of work my colleagues and I did to better understand our patrons. I won’t share the whole slidedeck, but some images are included in this post as illustration.
The first part dealt with departments categorizing their users into groups which share similar characteristics. They answered some questions about what users want, how they connect with us, and how we could do better by them. The second part was for me to crunch some data. The third involved surveying patrons guerilla-style. I’m still working on that last part.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.