Monthly Archives: November 2013

Student Art Show

In the fall we have a used book sale in the library. We consistently reduce prices for a few weeks until it becomes clear that no one is interested in the dregs even if we are giving them away for free. At that point, we typically recycle what’s left. This year, the day before the books were slated for the recycling center, an art professor phoned me up and asked if she could bring her mixed media class by and take some books. One of their projects was to be altered books. “Absolutely,” I said, “and would you like a space to display them when they’re finished?” And that’s how we ended up having three different art classes show their work in the library last night.

Obviously, there needed to be a poster of some kind, and it needed to be “arty.” First things first. I googled “student art opening poster” and started looking for inspiration. I found a few I liked:




I really like the oversized hands on the first one. At some point, I’d love to mess around with the font-play necessary to make the second. Time was tight, however, so I settled on the third one as my main inspiration and came up with this:

art opening fall 2013

I really liked the blocky font used on the inspiration poster, but I couldn’t find anything like it in the standard software font list (although I swear that I’ve seen something like it in the standard roster). I found something I like even better, though. I just love how the font I used looks like it came half dressed from the art studio. I like Dafont and 1001 Fonts for free fonts. I used 3 theHard way RMX and A Love of Thunder from 1001 Fonts for the two main fonts. I have used Dafont a lot, but for this particular search process I found the 1001 Fonts interface really helped me drill down to a font that worked for me. I like that it remembers the sample text between pages. This allows you to enter your sample text on the first screen and see it displayed down the whole series of search results, which is really helpful for visualizing how the font will work with the text. I also like that it allows you to refine your initial search.

I designed the poster in InDesign, as I am wont to do in order to keep my skillz up to date, but I made the medallion in Photoshop Elements and imported it. InDesign is really great for some things, but drawing objects is not one of them. I have had good luck copy-and-pasting objects from other applications like Powerpoint and Word, too. Just keep in mind that you can’t alter the colors in InDesign (or maybe you can but I don’t know how to do it yet.) For some reason, the medallion looks purple on my screen as a jpg, but in real life it’s hot pink.

The student art opening was a huge success. The Dean of the school and the Provost of the college even came! The students felt very special, and we have some beautiful altered books in our front display case to enjoy. I could have just made up a poster really fast in Publisher or Word, but I enjoy taking posters like this to the next level. It allows me to fly my flag as a creative person in my job.

The other day, as we were leaving a library meeting that featured a handout and debrief on the procedure for our reference assessment, a colleague told me that my handouts were so nice that they made him want to read them. All blushing aside, this is the reason that design matters. A well designed, albeit informational, document engages the viewer and makes them want to participate, even if the document is essentially a list of instructions. I’m going to keep flying my creative flag, especially as we (eep!) resdesign our webpage!

Essential skills

night adk

If there is a lesson to be learned from the events of this evening’s late night shift, it is that IT skills, however rudimentary, are always going to bail you (or your high profile speaker) out. When the promised IT support does not show to set up a speaker presentation and the event is hosted in your library (although not sponsored by your library), you are the tech support. You are the one that has to figure out a way to hook up a Mac to your fervently PC institutional set up. You are the one that has to figure out how to deal with a mess of cords and a dongle because even if you could export Keynote to Powerpoint on short notice, somehow the PC unit on the podium has disappeared, so you couldn’t run it anyway.

I implore you. If you are a librarian who does not know where the cords go on your own computer or entertainment center, figure it out. This skill will serve you well, I promise.

Relatedly, Elizabeth Kolbert is a lovely human, who gives interesting lectures, and is amazingly flexible in the face of possibly giving a lecture without slides. Or a microphone. You might check out her soon-to-be-released book, The Sixth Extinction.