A Legacy of #LAFE

It is hard for me to fully express what the Libraries Are For Everyone campaign has meant to me. Hitting 100 languages this week has really made me pause and reflect on this experience. When I’ve been asked to talk about it, I find that I can’t because it is so deeply moving to me, and I will start to cry.

A decade ago, my life collapsed, and I felt like I had failed in everything. Back then if you would have told me that in a handful of years I would impact lives around the world with my art? I likely would have thought you were being cruel.

But the reality is that with the help of many-many people, there will be a legacy of #LAFE. We did this together.

Thank you to every person who worked to bring me translations.

Thank you to everyone who has spread the #LAFE message.

The Tacoma Community College Library shared their framed LAFEs which were right next to the Library Bill of Rights. Hooray!

Canada: represent! Librarians at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia shared one of the loveliest creations using LAFE signs. It makes my heart sing every time I see this.

MY ART HAS BEEN ON A CAKE!!! PEOPLE LITERALLY ATE MY ART!!! I can’t help but smile when I see these pictures from Mount Holyoke College. Mmmm…LAFE cake…

This is the exterior of La Crosse Public Library in Wisconsin. Inside they also have beautiful large LAFE banners hanging from a second floor balcony. And yes, this is the library that is having massive budget/employee cuts. Please sign EveryLibrary’s online petition to show your support of this great library.

This is Lauren Seaver, a Library Assistant at Fairport Public Library. Our friendship began when she sent me this picture of herself rocking a LAFE bag that she made for herself. I never imagined that my art would lead to so many amazing friendships – it still blows my mind (in a good way).

This is all the Library Helpers at Rochester International Academy in New York. This picture gets me right in the feels every time. ❤️

This photo is one of a set that a patron named Jason sent me. This was my first email from a patron sharing the #LAFE love. He and his kids really loved the printing workshop that was held at Appleton Public Library.

I received a lovely email from Molly Moss, the Assistant Director/Patron Services Librarian at Forbes Library in Northampton, MA. Those fabulous librarians marched in their town’s Pride parade and she sent me a thank you along with this photo. Happy tears.

Becky Ferguson, the Communications Coordinator at Vernon Area Public Library let me know about some signs that they created.. When I went to grab a link from VAPL’s website for this post, I discovered what is in the next picture, and may have cried a wee bit.

THIS IS ON THEIR FRONT PAGE. And when you opt to READ MORE – the first thing you see on that page is this:

And underneath is a beautiful statement about LAFE (this is just a snippet) by their Director Cynthia Fuerst: “It’s more than just a slogan. It’s the foundation of what we believe.” VAPL will make one more appearance in this post from one of their patrons. It’s one of my favorite all-time responses to LAFE. ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜 🖤

Sandra Lopez, the Head of Outreach Services for the Round Lake Area Public Library District, sent me some photos featuring her team using #LAFE to decorate their booth at the Lake County Fair!

Corey Flynn, a Library Assistant at the King Philip Regional Middle School in Massachusetts shared this wall that is tiled with #LAFE. Yay!!!

Colleen Sanders, Reference & Instruction Librarian at Clackamas Community College in Oregon, sent me this pic of their circ desk. LOVE. IT.

All of these photos are so very precious to me, and so are all the emails or messages that people have sent to me over the years. But I wanted to highlight the following posts and pictures because these make my heart…it’s a feeling that I can’t put into words. These are the things that I have printed out and put at my desk for those days when I struggle with negative feelings about myself. These are my lifelines to know that something I did during my time on this planet has meant something special to others.

You might find it odd that I don’t write as much about these in their captions, and take it the wrong way. It goes back to the deep emotions that these bring about within me, and I’ve treated these like private gems that give me hope in this chaotic universe. I feel like I’m baring my soul with these and feel like they speak for themselves.

This is the first image shared with me that made me cry (in a good way).

My heart, too.

This is the sign that the Jefferson Madison Regional Library in Charlottesville, VA proudly put out in front of their building in August of 2017.

The whole impetus for creating my diverse patrons was because I was sick-and-tired of seeing people with disabilities being represented by someone in an old-fashioned wheel chair. I took that anger and poured it out to show others that hey – there’s a beautiful rainbow of people out there who are marginalized and not represented in art or design. And they both can and should be.

My soul.

This is a selfie of my mom and dad, taken in the entryway of their home. Over a decade ago they took me in and gave me back my strength and determination to do good. I would never have found myself in the library-world without them. And for them to be so proud of me? #LAFE would have never happened without their love and support.

I will let the poster of this Instagram picture at Vernon Area Public Library have the final word on #LAFE. I look at this beautiful baby and hope that she gets to live in a better world.

“I hope America will re-find its path of accepting all, without discriminating between race, religion, language & color. You have to change with the changing world, sometimes drastically, but your history, ideals & philosophy define you. Change can be less violent & traumatic. Thank you @vernonlibrary for the beautiful message advocating inclusivity. This was an inspiration.”

Libraries Are For Everyone: Punjabi

Punjabi is the 100th language into which Libraries Are For Everyone has been translated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I must give a HUGE thank you to everyone who made the effort to supply me with translations. I truly couldn’t have done this without you. I have a special post coming up to help commemorate this because you’re not here for a party; you’re here for signs.

This is another language provided to me by school librarian Jennifer out in Washington. She worked with a student’s mother named Pooja Katwal to bring me this translation. But there was a hiccup. The translation was in the form of a photo of handwritten Punjabi. This isn’t usually a problem for me as I’ve been successful a digitally transcribing a handful of other hand-written submissions. After an hour of trying to make it work with Punjabi, I knew that I needed to ask for help. This is where Harjit Singh from the Jakara Movement comes in.

I blindly emailed this community-building organization and explained LAFE and how I needed help. I was put in touch with Harjit (thank you Jaspreet!), and he was able to provide a typed-out version that I could copy/paste into a Gurmukhi font in Photoshop.


Thank you to Jennifer, Pooja, Jaspreet, and Harjit for making these signs possible!

A NOTE: My entire blog here is under a Creative Commons Attribute/Share Alike license – so know that I both want and encourage
everyone to download, share, modify, and use my work.

I also want to reiterate what I’ve stated in the past since I can’t make it an exception within the license: I do not want my name (given or business) on my minimalist art. It sort of ruins the clean lines and the message. Just don’t tell people that you’re the creator – I’m fine with you say that it’s by “an awesome Punk Rock Book Jockey blogger” if you can’t recall either of my names. Or write by Hafuboti on the back in pencil if you’re worried about it. Seriously.

I plan on putting this note on the bottom of all of my Libraries Are For Everyone posts so if you’ve read the above paragraph once, then you won’t need to again (unless you really want to).

Libraries Are For Everyone: Yapese

Back in September of last year, I was sent three translations from Jennifer, an elementary school librarian in Washington. Two parents of students, and one student had provided new translations of #LAFE for me.

This Yapese translation was provided by Jacklyn Famaw.

Thank you, both Jennifer and Jacklyn, for both the translation and your patience with me!

ETA: Jacklyn reached out to me to point out a typo I had on the first sign set. If, when you look at the files you downloaded, there isn’t the word “correct” at the end of the file name, then you need to download the new set. I apologize for the error and inconvenience.

A NOTE: My entire blog here is under a Creative Commons Attribute/Share Alike license – so know that I both want and encourage
everyone to download, share, modify, and use my work.

I also want to reiterate what I’ve stated in the past since I can’t make it an exception within the license: I do not want my name (given or business) on my minimalist art. It sort of ruins the clean lines and the message. Just don’t tell people that you’re the creator – I’m fine with you say that it’s by “an awesome Punk Rock Book Jockey blogger” if you can’t recall either of my names. Or write by Hafuboti on the back in pencil if you’re worried about it. Seriously.

I plan on putting this note on the bottom of all of my Libraries Are For Everyone posts so if you’ve read the above paragraph once, then you won’t need to again (unless you really want to).

Signs of the Times

This is the second part of my series of signage in the library. I only feel slightly sorry if you just punched your monitor because I used the word “signage.” The English language, despite decades of trying to pin it down, remains awesomely fluid.



In the first part of this series I discussed auditing your library’s signs. That post was very much geared towards directional/indicator signs. This one is focusing on early literacy signs that compliment the other signs. They also hide how messy my crayon-covered signs look on their backsides.

The most important thing I need to mention is that the vast majority of these signs were completely borrowed and modified from Julie Crabb‘s Tales For the Tinythis post, specifically. So if you don’t like my versions, then you have the original ones as a fantastic option.

Some reasons that I chose to modify Julie’s signs were so that they’d fit our sign holders (portrait 8.5″ x 11″), be crisper/more modern, and use our branded font on the vast majority of them. Impact!

I would also have loved to get more diverse children represented in our signs, but I was limited by our stock photo site. Harumph. Hey – if you happen to have an isolated image of a child or children that you think would be perfect for any of these signs, then send it my way and I can add it to this collection in order to give it more variety.

I shall now stop typing and switch to giving! Fell free to click on and download any or all of the following images for your own use. For reals. Enjoy!



The only sign that I opted to use a different font on was this last one. I struggled to figure out what image I wanted to go with it. I finally narrowed it down to wanting it to be a child holding a crayon (continuing that theme), but the closest that I could get was this girl with the colored pencils. So I went with it. I matched the font’s colors to the colored pencils in the photo to give it more cohesion. At least it ties in overall with the “crayon scribble” theme that I have going on. This font is called Pastel Crayon.

At this point I am unsure whether or not there will be a part 3. I’m thinking that there will be, it just depends on whether or not my idea works in reality. Well, even if it sort of works, I’ll be sure to share. And I’ll update this post with a link to it.

Until then, happy signing!

ETA: Okay, so I didn’t proof this post or my signs close enough. Thank you to the two awesome readers who caught both errors: one in the first image, and the other in the next-to-last. They have both been corrected.

Redesign Sign Time

While our library spaces are closed to the public, we have been busy completing tasks that have long been on our to-do lists. For me, one of those things has been updating our signs throughout the Children’s Library. After unintentionally letting some things stagnate between 5-8 years, it seems painfully obvious that I need to make an annual audit of our signs a thing.

Now, a “sign audit” sounds a bit epic, but it doesn’t have to be. At its core, I’ll be looking at our signs through the eyes of our patrons – especially with awareness to my personal preferences towards artsy-fartsiness. What will I be looking for? Glad you asked.

  • Design 
    A consistent and modern theme or style should be used in order to help unify your library’s look and feel. If you’re unironically using ’80’s clip art in any of your signs, then a sign audit in your space should be done.
  • Legibility
    This is incredibly important, and I have to admit to not always putting this at the forefront. You have to walk the fine line between a great design and what will really work for as many patrons as possible.
  • Impact
    Usually this is the result of both design and legibility being on-point and working together. This can be a positive gut feeling that your patrons will have when looking at or using your signs.

Okay. Let’s see some examples of what I’m talking about.

Here’s one of the signs that I was so proud of back in 2015:

This is a good example of style outweighing substance. Being right up close to the signs, they’re easy to read. From a distance it could be a problem, and for our tiny library to have signs that are not the easiest to read? Fail.

Also, over time these signs faded because of all the unfiltered sunshine that comes through our many windows. This lessened the contrast between the color and the white letters, thus making them even harder to read.

That reminds me: be sure to have enough color contrast to make them accessible to those with visual impairments. This is a great article that goes over even more ways to make visuals (online or IRL) as accessible as possible.

I wish that I could take credit for realizing that the previous signs weren’t the best, but they’re a result of our Children’s Librarian looking at a few of my new design options and saying, “The words need to be as big as possible. That’s what’s most important to me.” That was a big-ole reminder of my artsy-fartsy blind spot.

So here are the signs that eventually resulted from my audit:

Even with this wider-shot photo, you can read almost every sign. The unified “color” scheme also makes the signs easier for people to locate throughout our space. Theoretically, patrons could be at our card catalog and spot the section that they need without having to move (of course this only works for sections that are facing towards them).

Here’s how I came up with these signs:

I knew that we’d use the Children’s Library’s branded font: Teen. I found the largest I could go font-wise with the longest word we’d be using in the signs. I think that it was Picture. Whatever that font size was, that’s what the rest of the signs would have. Jumping up and down font sizes (or using different fonts) makes eyes work harder for information (which lessens the impact).

Here’s what the new signs look like when printed out:

The crayon scribble design was a result of my initial use of it on our Kids’ Corner website. It was a ::headdesk:: realization that this would make the perfect design element to tie our signs together. Not only are these signs highly visible, but when people get closer, they’ll realize that there’s a fun design element to each sign.

I’ve written and re-written paragraphs about the making-of these signs, but honestly? It was tedious. I’ll try touch on the most important aspects, but feel free to ask me for clarification on any point.

I ended up adding real crayon scribbles to the printed signs in order to extend the lettering beyond the printed margins. The unexpected benefit of this was when I laminated them (mostly to protect our sign holders from getting a yucky wax buildup over time), the wax bonded the laminating sheets to the paper. That meant that I could completely trim off all of the excess laminate without the paper becoming loose.

Here are pictures of the front and back of a laminated sign:

You can still see the borders, but they don’t stand out as much. And yes, some of the heavier scribbling melted, which makes me want to experiment with the artsy potential of this procedure. It could be a safer version of the “crayon melt art.” If I try that, then I’ll be sure to share the results here.

Yes, the back is ugly, but no one will see that side unless they pull the sign out of the stand. I’m including this underwhelming picture in order to show that my sign-scribbling on the same spot on my desk led to having specks of crayon that melted and kept the backside of the laminate affixed to the paper.

Something I noticed after putting the signs in their holders was that there was a terrible double-glare happening because both the sign holder and the signs were glossy. Blech! If you scroll up and look at the front-side picture again, you can see the results of my spray painting two matte clear coats on it. I did that for all the signs with great results.

To save you from experimenting and ruining a plexi sign holder: I tried spraying the same clear coat on an old, cracked plexiglass sign holder to see what it looked like, and it looked bad. It looked dusty/dirty. So while there’s still some glaring on signs, it was massively reduced by making sure the sign itself wasn’t shiny.

And that about wraps up this portion of the sign redesign.

And yes, there’s going to be another portion about our redesign coming out soon. It’s gonna be chock-full of signs that you can freely download and use for your library. Yay!

Until then, have fun doing your own sign audit. Let me know if you need help or clarification on any aspect, or if you feel uncertain or stuck.