A Great Update

Besides recently giving our library’s community space a muchneeded update, I’ve also been trying to make our office a bit nicer. I share this office with Jennifer, our Children’s Librarian, and it’s pretty much the hub for the rest of our team.

The doorway leading out to the circulation desk has had its share of fun decor over the years. This is a photo taken a few years back:

In an earlier version of this post, I had gone into detail as to what was going on in this photo. But honestly? It was really boring. I wanted this post to be brief, and have a fun Before & After element to it.

So I made it short and sweet.

Without further ado, here’s what it looks like today:

Ta-Da!!!

It feels SO GOOD to declutter and beautify our small office space.

I’m also going to throw in a super-simple tutorial for those who may never given laminating much thought. If you want to take your laminating to a whole new level? Use some tape and some super glue.

A Super-Simple Laminating Tutorial

  • First, I taped one inner-side of the laminating sheet down in order to make it a stable surface.
  • Second, I used the natural straight line created between the wood edging and the laminate top as a guide to line up the letters.
  • Third, I used a bit of super glue on the back of the letters to stick them exactly where I wanted them.
  • Finally, I removed the tape and easily transferred the sheet over and into the laminator.

Ta-Da!!!
Again!!!

Now if you’re reading this and realize that this is where I’m going to leave you, and you’re like, “But wait! I want more details!!! WHY HAVE YOU FORESAKEN ME?!?!?” Sorry about that! Just ask for details on any aspect in the comments, on social media, or by email (hafuboti@gmail.com). I promise: you haven’t been…foresakened? foresook? foresaked? I haven’t abandoned you.

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.

Masked Social Media Images

Crystal, a librarian in Montana, reached out to see if I would make a Facebook Cover of the My Masks Protect My Community design. Of course I could totally do that, and I did, and now I’m sharing several versions of it for y’all to use. Yay!

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.