Posts tagged ‘Library Garden’
My name is John LeMasney, and I love libraries. I’m the newest blogger on Library Garden, and I’m thrilled and honored to be here.
I’m a technologist, father, open source advocate, artist and designer, and I’ve been known to wax poetic about beer from time to time. I’ve been told by Ed Corrado, one of my favorite librarians, that I should start looking at an MLS. I told him I’d maybe think about it after I finish my Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership later this year.
I was invited to join Library Garden despite the fact that I have no MLS, I think, because I have a regular beat in the New Jersey library consortia, have many good friends who do have their MLS (many of them co-bloggers here) and I also tend to spend a lot of time in libraries.
As the newest blogger for Library Garden, I wanted to give a kind of gift to my fellow bloggers in the form of a new header for the blog. Peter Bromberg’s original header was simple, elegant, and straightforward, but he asked me if I wanted to take a shot at making a new one. I have given workshops on design for Peter, and others here, so I figured that it would be a good way to show some of what I know about design, as well as present a thank you gift to the group.
My process for design usually follows the procedure I’m about to record here, and it is how we came to our new header you see in our blog. You can click on any of the images in this post to see a full sized version of the image. I encourage it for the alternative headers, since it’s difficult to see the detail in the thumbnail.
Using the open source illustration application named Inkscape, I show the name of the organization in a list of fonts for the stakeholders that I think speak to the feel of their brand. I usually present a list of at least 5-10, but it’s not a set number. In this case, I shared the following image, which went a little further than simply listing fonts and had progressed to forming word-form relationships, which is typically a secondary process. Since I had access to the original header, I included it for comparison. No kerning or other fine tuning is done at this stage:
I got the feedback pretty quickly that people preferred the second and fourth design. They liked the boldness of Library in #2 and the finesse and softness of #4. People were positive, respectful, and kind and that always makes for a better design project. They said they liked the font used for garden in the 4th option, and might like to see it paired with other fonts.
I wanted to respect Peter’s previous work, celebrate the brand that is Library Garden, and above all respect the opinions and feelings of the stakeholders. I hope that I did that, and I am very happy with the work that we did to come up with this solution together.
In order to clarify what I was hearing, I sent out a revised picture of three options in which the less popular options were removed and a new option was generated making use of what was learned in the first round. That looked like this:
This set brought the garden font into focus as a definite, while showing that the great Gill Sans, one of my favorite fonts and shown in the first two options, as well as in the final result, had the versatility to provide the boldness that people were looking for in the third option.
Once we had our wordmark it was time to begin developing a background for the header on the blog. I decided to emphasize the garden aspect of Library Garden, relying on luscious foliage, summery greens, and deep layering.
I wanted to try to evoke the depth of information and directions and ideas available at your library. I wanted to show people the complexity and richness of their options when they walk in and sit down and talk with a reference librarian, for instance. I also wanted to try to celebrate the work, history, and richness of my fellow bloggers on this site.
So, if you feel that the work I’m about to show you is kind of busy, keep in mind that complexity, richness, layering, and depth were my goals. I didn’t want you to look at the header so much as dive into it.
With that said, let’s look at how the first header option came about. Note that at this point, I didn’t intend any longer to edit the text based information, and so I converted the text to paths in Inkscape. This makes it easier to nudge and relate letterforms and other elements. I tweaked the wordmark we collectively chose by fixing the kerning (space between letterforms) and exported it as a PNG in the exact size of Peter’s original header.
I opened up the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and imported the wordmark, and then I added 3 transparent layers, named close, middle, and distant, so that I could add my visual elements in a layered way so as to build depth. I also duplicated the wordmark layer so that I could create a blur based glow effect to make the workmark pop up from the busy backgrounds. I saved it as a native GIMP XCF file to preserve the layer work and named it header template.xcf. Then I saved it as header option 1.xcf and began working on the first header possibility. I started with the template each time so I wouldn’t have to start from scratch each time. Templates are great, but I encourage you to roll your own, rather than relying on someone else’s.
In retrospect, Option 1 is seen as the most tame, minimalist, straightforward, and quiet. None of these are bad things. It was early, easy play with greens and foliage brushes, and was intended really just to get my ideas out of my head and onto the screen. I worked back and forth between the layers, adding blocks of color in the deep layer, and thinner, more crisp elements in the foreground. Most of my objects and shapes are available to me as brushes I used from online brush sites such as those I bookmarked here. I thought of the process as though I was building a garden landscape scene, starting first with broad deep dark strokes, then building on top of that with thinner, more careful, contrasting details. My palette for this option was deep grass green, grayish midnight fields, moonlit patches, and a bright orange for contrast. People thought it was okay, but they liked the second option much more. So much more in fact, it almost got the nod.
This one brought in much more of a Chinese influence — It was very much like option 1 in that it was mostly greens and greys, but it allows the eye to focus on the bright beautiful sunny flower peeking out, and is balanced nicely with the red signature stamp, both of which are parts of free brush sets, as well as most of the tree and foliage shapes you see. I would say that this option was a favorite for many. As I finished each option, I’d send out an email to the group asking for guidance and feedback, and they didn’t disappoint.
Options 3 and 4 were simultaneously my favorites and the group’s least favorites. They consistently ended up at the end of the list of one’s preferences. They are both quite busy, very technology imagery driven, go deeper into what I think is an modernist color theorist’s palette that’s I’d call sporty, and are energetic to the point of dizziness.
I love them both, but they were obviously (now) not the best choice for representing this group. I think I like their painterly style, deep layering, and rich color, but they’re not especially garden-y.
Perhaps the most important thing in design is knowing how to listen to your stakeholders, and being receptive to the survey even when it forks with your own feelings. I’m glad I made these options in order to provide contrast, offer other options, expand expectations, and most of all, in order to go a little too far. It’s hard to know when something’s right unless you’ve seen it go wrong, or at least wrong in the eyes of your stakeholders.
After hearing feedback at each new option, I learned that these people wanted clarity, simplicity, legibility, some energy, some calm, garden-ness, lush vegetation, and that no matter what, these were all okay — they’d all do the job. That’s reassuring when your client says no matter what, they’ll be happy. With that, I tried to pull all of this together in a final option, which ended up being the one that took the prize.
The only concern was that no one, including me, knew what the block and character in the lower left translated to. As a result, I decided to remove and replace them instead of potentially upsetting someone with the interpretation of the character. I replaced it with a postmark from a set of very cool stamp related brushes, and soon after, the header was in place.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to my fellow bloggers for their patience in the process, for the opportunity to collaborate and create together, and for the opportunity to have another great place such as Library Garden to share ideas. I feel very welcome here, and I’m looking forward to my our next post.
Submitted by: John LeMasney.
It’s our “blogaversary” and we didn’t even know it until several of us were sitting in a hotel bar at PLA unwinding after a busy day of conferencing and presenting. I mentioned that I thought it was during the last week of March that we officially started Library Garden, so Pete grabbed his laptop to verify the date. Lo and behold, it was on March 28th that Pete posted the intro post and I quickly followed with my thoughts on Sharing:It’s the New Black.
It was not planned, but what a happy coincidence that several of us could share a celebratory drink and photo op on the occasion of Library Garden turning two [more photos on flickr]. We just wish that Ty, Cynthia and Robert could have been with us and the event would have been perfect (but we did raise our glasses to those who remained behind in Jersey).
We are also celebrating our anniversary by announcing that Karen Klapperstuck of Bradley Beach Public Library will be returning to the blog team. Karen blogged with us in our early days before taking a blogging sabbatical. We are so thrilled that she will be joining us to once again share her insights on running a small public library.
I also want to extend my gratitude to all the members of LG, both past and present, for so richly enhancing my life for the last two years with thought-provoking posts, professional support, timely advice and (most importantly) friendship and fun.
This weekend, the blogosphere and listservs were batting around two interesting reports: The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s “Digital Footprints” report, which was published this Sunday, and the New Media Consortium’s/EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s co-published future 2008 “Horizon Report,” which will be published in late January 2008 (a lot of people, though, are commenting on the report based on their wiki that they use to review, report, and refine their research oriented efforts, which is available now. Although I like skimming this wiki and seeing their Table of Contents and some details, I will wait for the published report–if interested, you can read about and browse the 2004-2007 Horizon Reports on this page.
For now, though, I decided to concentrate on the “Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency” report, which did surprise me a bit with some of its findings. Here is a portion of their published summary on their site:
“Internet users are becoming more aware of their digital footprint; 47% have searched for information about themselves online, up from just 22% five years ago. However, few monitor their online presence with great regularity. Just 3% of self-searchers report that they make a regular habit of it and 74% have checked up on their digital footprints only once or twice.
Indeed, most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information. Fully 60% of internet users say they are not worried about how much information is available about them online. Similarly, the majority of online adults (61%) do not feel compelled to limit the amount of information that can be found about them online.” [bold/emphasis is mine]
What surprised me was the section in the summary and report that stated that “Most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information.” According to the “Summary of Findings” from the entire 50-page freely available PDF report, many of us (Internet users) are not concerned about online information on us—see my bolded statements above, which are also found on page ii, as well as four classified categories of online adults concerning this subject: “Confident Creatives (17%)” “Concerned and Careful (21%),” “Worried by the Wayside (18%),” and “Unfazed and Inactive (43%).” Interesting titles and descriptions, by the way–so I read on.
It is just that, ever since I starting doing seminars for school districts and libraries on social networking sites and personal information search engines, a great deal of interest seemed to be generated on not only finding out what was “out there” on them and their “kids” but also on what they could do to protect themselves and others. I constantly get asked about this topic, at just about any type of Internet workshop that I host or present. Maybe many who do ask about it do fall into the “Concerned and Careful,” but that would not seem correct to me, given the concern that I have witnessed concerning the protection of minors and the prevalence of identity theft articles. Remember, the report states that “Just 38% say they have taken steps to limit the amount of online information that is available about them.”
Although this does not seem right to me, I have to remember that they are only talking about “online adults,” and not my mother, for instance. I also do believe that the Pew Internet & American Life Project crew do a wonderful job of collecting their information and putting together their reports, but I am still curious…. We have a few thousand people who regularly visit us here at the Library Garden; How would you classify yourself using their four categories and their descriptions (see below). I would say that I fall into the “Confident Creatives”–the smallest of the groups (although my son would point out that I definitely don’t match the description of a “young adult”—those who most likely fall into this category, according to Pew / Internet).
Taken directly from page 30-31 of the report, see the four categories of online adults based on online footprint concern:
1) “Confident Creatives are the smallest of the four groups, comprising 17% of online adults. They say they do not worry about the availability of their online data, and actively upload content, but still take steps to limit their personal information. Young adults are most likely to fall into this group.
2) The Concerned and Careful fret about the personal information available about them online and take steps to proactively limit their own online data. One in five online adults (21%) fall into this category.
3) Despite being anxious about how much information is available about them, members of the Worried by the Wayside group do not actively limit their online information. This group contains 18% of online adults.
4) The Unfazed and Inactive group is the largest of the four groups—43% of online adults fall into this category. They neither worry about their personal information nor take steps to limit the amount of information that can be found out about them online.”
So, Library Gardeners and readers—what category best fits you, and what do you think about these findings? I guess I just think people online are more concerned with the making of and protection of their digital footprints, but it won’t be the first time that my experience differs with the results of a study or survey.
When Pete, Robert and I originally discussed Library Garden one of our original goals was to have voices on the blog team that represented a spectrum of views about libraries and librarianship. In particular, we wanted diversity in terms of types of libraries and also years of experience to ensure that we could have a variety of perspectives to add to our conversation.
We talked earlier this summer about adding a blogger that would represent the voice of a current LIS student or recent graduate and we have finally found one who is willing to join us. The bloggers of LG e are pleased to welcome Cynthia Lambert as our “newbie” voice.
I asked Cynthia to send me some biographical background information to put in her welcome post. Here is her response:
A bit longer:
I hate to tell Cynthia that her days as a cubicle -dweller may not be over. I am a librarian and I dwell in a cubicle most of the day. Do you?
I was reluctant to post this at first, but after telling Amy about this yesterday over snacks at Applebee’s (and seeing Michelle’s post today), I guess I will share. Here’s the back story…
Romina Gutierrez and I had a tour and lunch with the some of the staff at Princeton University Press a few weeks back. While at their offices we noticed that they had the newest biography on Garibaldi on display, it was hot off their presses and being released that week. We were able to get a freebie copy during the course of our conversation – but it was not for the PPL collection that we wanted the freebie. We wanted to get this for one of our favorite long-time customers, an elderly gentleman who takes a bus some distance and then walks several blocks to reach us so he can do research on Garibaldi at our library. He has been here on an almost daily for as long as I have worked here (9+ years). The staff all know him by name and we have literally purchased or done an ILL on every book and article every published about Garibaldi by this point.
When he was given his own copy of the new Garibaldi biography to keep, he was deeply moved – we knew he would be happy, but we had no idea how happy. Here is the poem he wrote and typed on his typewriter and mailed to administration to give his thanks. It brings a smile to my face to read it (I have it on my bulletin board next to my desk).
O Janie! O Romina!
Wish I knew a better way,
To let my heart (thank you) say,
For your generous book gift,
Giving my sagging spirit a lift.
Newest bio, I do not own,
On “Garibaldi” which I’m prone.
To some librarians, well known,
Thrives the noble gestures pull,
Into that zone of the wonderful.
Eye-ing graciousness hue
Embedded in Library’s two.
In parting, I will plead
Words are _______ next to the deed.
Anyone care to share Reason #455 to love being a librarian? Perhaps the making of a meme…
I hear the sounds of crickets in the garden — the Library Garden, that is! My guess is that not only myself but all the other members of our blog team have been swallowed whole by September and all that it entails with the start of the academic year, new jobs, and new programs to plan. Not to mention that we have had a lot of good weather in NJ the last few weeks and I, for one, am taking time to enjoy it while I can. I do believe that this is officially the longest our blog has been quiet.
When Pete, Robert and I first talked about starting Library Garden we really felt that having 6-7 contributors was essential. The three of us all knew that our schedules would not allow for us to have individual blogs that we could maintain with any sort of consistency, but we felt we had a good shot if we had a team to blog with us. Our strategy has worked so far and I know that this silence on LG is just a matter of life trumping blogging for a few weeks.