2019 CHILDREN’S LIBRARY THEMES

If you happen to like this sort of run-down on themes, then you might want to check out my 2017 and 2018 posts.

I mention Natasia throughout this post quite a few times. In case you’re unaware of who she is, she was my right-hand creative rock star who did the vast majority of the concept and creation of what you’ll be seeing (including photos of her own work). A few weeks ago we said goodbye as she moved on to a non-library job. She is deeply missed.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me in any way to get more details or answers to your questions about anything. I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Now on to the themes!!!

January: Dragon Magic

This was a simple, but very effective theme. As kids approached the door, they’d see a magical book, and when they stepped inside, they’d be greeted by this large dragon (who came out of the book).

Our community’s mascot is a dragon, and so this was quite popular. We had a wide variety of dragon-themed books on display, and the display was always nearly empty.

Thankfully, Natasia’s beautiful dragon found a home within a Gretna teacher’s classroom once this month was over. We do that a lot with parts of our themes: giving them away at the end of the month. Sometimes it’s through social media contests, or more often than not, when someone inquires about it.

February: Febru-bear-y

BEARS!!!! Goodness knows we had enough bear-related items to put out at our reading bench display.

That bear waving “hi” and “bye” to everyone was just the sweetest. He got a good number of high-fives from kids on their way into the library.

This also marks the first facts display created by Natasia. Our team would have a blast when she’d show off all of the cool facts she’d compiled for the themes. It was also really nice to hear kids and their caregivers talking about all of the posted information.

March: Farm Fun

For many years, our city has been the fastest growing city in Nebraska. While we are right next to Omaha, we still have farmland to the south and west of us. So anytime we do anything farm-related, it tends to be a hit with both kids and adults.

It was also fun to see kids notice the cow in our front window’s barn. We decided to box it in since the toy would be within arms reach of almost any curious kiddo.

April & May: For the Birds

We put out bird coloring sheets for the kids in April and then filled the windows with their creations in May. Neither Natasia nor myself remembered to get a picture of the entire front display, but you get the general idea of it with the top photo. What you can’t see is the power poles Natasia created where the twine is attached so it looks like the birds are perched on power lines. There were also flying birds, but the perchers easily won the popularity contest.

The cut paper she used to create the birds on the inside display was really cool. The little feather tufts you see were somehow tucked into the main portion of the birds giving them a depth and texture.

June & July: CSLP’s Universe of Stories

Natasia (who you catch a glimpse of in the 3rd picture down) found this great rocket template on Etsy. I believe that it’s this one. She also found a simple star template and hung those around as well. She used discarded books and other paper that we had on hand to create a space super-highway across our ceiling.

I wish that you could get a better feel for how large the blue and white rocket was. I’d estimate it at around 3 feet tall. We gave it away in a Facebook post, so there’s one lucky kid out there who has a sweet rocket in his or her room.

August: Science!

Our two summer teen interns wanted their focus to be on being Creative Directors, so they helped design August’s scientific theme. They put together the display sign using the periodic table to spell out a phrase (which I can’t seem to find!!!), gave Natasia the concept of oversized science things using colorful pieces of cellophane, and wanted the facts board to be about female scientists.

The cellophane was such a cool effect that we’ll have to try using it again with something in the future.

September: Reading ‘Round the World

The above photo shows how tight the workspace is here. Anything that’s large needs to be able to move in an instant in case someone needs help or access to a space in the library. Natasia was fantastic at making that happen.

The heart in the above sign was made using flags from around the world.

I loved the recycled book hot air balloons so much that three of them float above my desk.

October: Creepy Carrots

Author Aaron Reynolds visited our schools back in 2017, and the kids here continue to be huge fans. So when Natasia asked if she could do a Creepy Carrots themed October, I was totally for it.

I truly love what she did here. From the dead-on replication of the artwork, to creating the “Wall-O-Creepy Carrots,” she nailed it. And in terms of the whiteboard, the kids would decorate a carrot and then come up and ask for the googly eyes.

Oh – and the scavenger hunt!!! Natasia made the creepy underwear (the spikes are from leftover cellophane from the previous month), and I scanned them in to make prize stickers. It was one of our most popular scavenger hunts of the year.

November: Nutty About Books

I’m going to jump in here to let you know a bit more about this display. Natasia had it up and looking fabulous, when I walked by and yelled “SQUIRREL!” and then started laughing. I told Natasia that I thought we should have Dug from Disney’s Up! yelling his famous line somewhere in the display. So Natasia very graciously made it happen.

I LOVE IT!!!

What a simple, but very popular theme! The simple garland that was draped across the windows was a nice change from our typically large scale displays. And the book display was almost always completely checked out which was a pleasant surprise.

December: Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary

Typically we celebrate a children’s book artist during the month (we affectionately call it Decemberley after Ed Emberley), but this year we went a different direction. Since it was Sesame Street‘s 50th anniversary, we wanted to do something special, and we only had December left in terms of decor openings in 2019.

Again, Natasia’s work was a beautiful sight to behold. Oscar was my absolute favorite since his trashcan was made using metallic silver tissue paper, and he had Slimey with him. But the younger crowd was so excited to see their favorite Muppets – it was a delight to behold.

I created the sign for the reading bench display, using a digital file from Etsy (which is no longer available), and changing the street’s name to Winter Reads.

And there you have it: our 2019 Children’s Library themes!

Book End Cozy Redux

This is the third, and final, sign revamp post. Here is part one and part two in case you missed them.

As I went to look for my post on what I call “book end cozies,” I realized that my first post about them was buried in a holiday-book post. Oops.

And at the beginning of my most recent book end cozy quest (heh), I thought that I had come up with an amazing new way to use laminating machines, which prompted me to post this:

Well, it turned out to not work. Even the first prototype turned out to be a fail after I looked at it closer. But hey! Hopefully, through my research, I can save you from experiencing upsetting things like laminator-jams:

Needless to say, I finally came up with a fool-proof template for professional-looking bookend cozies that I am excited to share with you! Yay!

Okay, so exactly are book end cozies? Well, they’re signs that go over bookends to indicate exactly what books are contained between those book ends. Like this:

SMALL BOOK END COZIES
(5.5″W X 4.75″W)

First up, I measured out and designed what I wanted our cozies to look like, and then printed them out onto cardstock to give them a better chance at a long life. Note that both sizes of cozies are on Letter-sized paper (8.5″ X 11″).

Then, I used our slide-cutter to cut the signs out. If you don’t know what slide-cutter is (also known as a paper trimmer), then you need to get yourself one. I have been using a Fiskars paper trimmer for both work and my ornaments, and it’s fan-friggin-tastic. Here’s what it looks like:

It has a thin wire that goes along where the blade will cut – so you can see exactly where your cut will be made. It doesn’t handle stacks of papers, but it’s totally fine with two pieces of stacked cardstock. This slicer is perfect for detailed work.

Once I had two of these signs cut out, I folded each in half and then made a sharp crease using a bone-folder (they’re not just for book covering). You can make folded things, such as brochures, look so professional by using a bone folder.

I took it a step further (let’s hear it for type-A’s!!!) and added some black crayon scribble on the sign, and along the white edges of the cut cardstock:

This was to give it a bit more depth, as well as hide any miss-folds and/or the white edges.

Now it’s laminatin’ time.

Two smaller cozies can go in one laminator sheet, you just have to be a bit careful.

Once they’re out – it’s trimmin’ time!

I sliced the laminate edges down to 3/16″ around the sides and top, :

And then on the bottom, I sliced a tiny bit off of the paper:

I did this so that they’d become a pocket, like so:

Okay, that may not have been the best visual example, but at this point, the cozy is done. All you have to do is slip is over a small book end:

Doesn’t it just pop compared to the cozy that it’s replacing? And it totally matches our new signs. Plus, the original was looking rough, but note that it was never laminated. Here’s a shot from the back:

It even looks good on this side! And there’s an added bonus that we shouldn’t need to use packing tape to keep it on. If, after it gets regular use and it turns out that tape is needed, then I’ll update this post.

LARGE BOOK END COZIES
(9″H X 6″W)

The large cozies end up needing two pieces of Letter-sized paper, but one laminate sheet.

So here we start out:

I had to re-shoot the above image, so yes, it’s a different sign, but same size as what’s below. And I had a “blank” black scribbles page printed out, too. I did some added scribbling and white-edge covering here as well:

Not pictured: sandwiching the two sheets back-to-back and then laminating them in one laminated sheet, and then cutting down the extra laminate (down to a 3/16″ edge) , and trimming off the bottom.

In the following picture you can see the new cozies and one of the cozies that they’re replacing. The original is completely sun-faded (it used to be black and a light orange). I’m hoping that using a printed-out design will lessen or altogether eliminate the fading.

And best part? You can use these cozies with different styles of book ends to bring about a cohesive look. These are what the above book ends look like without their cozies:

And here’s what a book end cozy looks like in use:

Whispers “Sooo Preeeeettyyyyyy…”

Now for some technical stuff that should get you book end cozying to the max!

If you have Photoshop, then email me (hafuboti@gmail.com) and I will send you the layered files for the small and large cozies.

Don’t have Photoshop, but have Word? Have Photoshop, but don’t wanna email me for files? Then here are the measurements for cozy text boxes:

Small Cozy: 4.92″ H x 5.25″ W

Large Cozy: 9.5″ H x 6.62″ W

Have Word and don’t know what I’m talking about? You can tell Word the exact size that you’d like to have your text box. With your text box selected, go into the Format/Drawing Tools tab and look to the right:

Ta-da!

And hey, if you need more help with this, then just reach out to me. I will breakdown any aspect of this process if you’re uncertain about any part of it.

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.

Anywho.

(heh)

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.

New Rainbow #LAFE for Sale

Announcing a new variation of my Rainbow #LAFE design which now includes my #BLM heart!

You can get the digital file for $5 on my Etsy shop. My Etsy sales go to help me keep this blog ad-free as well as other expenses involved in running a small business. Click on the sample image below to be taken to its listing.