In this week’s Princh Library Blog post, guest writer MiKayla Carter gives advices on how you can make your library’s design practices more efficient and cohesive. Enjoy!

In today’s libraries, graphic design plays an important role in making books, technology, classes, and other resources more accessible to the communities we serve. Building managers use flyers to communicate upcoming closures. Children’s librarians use story time presentations to teach young readers. Marketing teams use digital signage to advertise programs.

Despite the growing need for these visual materials, many libraries are operating with designers who are often working on additional tasks like posting to social media, uploading news to the website, planning events, and interacting with customers. However, with a few key changes to their design practices, along with buy-in from the organization as a whole, libraries can save time and empower designers throughout the library to design polished, easy-to-read materials, all while adhering to their organization’s brand guidelines.

Let’s take a look at a few ways libraries can streamline their design practices.

1.) Make sure your brand guidelines are working for you

To begin streamlining design practices, libraries need to assess whether their design framework is making their work easier or harder. Four questions that libraries should be asking themselves include:

  1. Is the logo still representative of our organization as a whole?
  2. Is it difficult to scale our logo up or down?
  3. Do our designers spend an excessive amount of time choosing the appropriate fonts or colors for their designs?
  4. Do our brand materials lack cohesion?

If libraries are finding themselves answering “yes” to a majority of these questions, it may be time for a logo and/or style guide refresh.

Refreshing the library’s brand involves:

  1. creating a brand that is representative of the organization as a whole,
  2. developing brand assets that can be easily adapted for a variety of materials,
  3. and simplifying and/or clarifying the style guide.

In doing so, libraries can not only create a more cohesive brand image but also make it easier to implement the style guide for future materials.

2.) Spend time to save time

In addition to assessing the effectiveness of their style guide, libraries should spend time creating tools that make it easier to implement that style guide, which will save time in the long run. Two basic tools that libraries can create are a brand kit and a suite of brand templates. While a brand kit is an easily accessible collection of brand assets, including logos, colors, fonts, graphic elements, and stock photos, a brand template is a ready-to-use design that already has all the necessary assets to keep materials on brand.

Adobe Creative Cloud apps, Adobe Express, and Canva are great design platforms that allow users to create, use, and share a brand kit and templates. Canva and Adobe Express offer a resource for teams called a “Brand Kit” or “Brand” that houses both of these resources and can be accessed directly from the design workspace. A similar tool is available on Adobe desktop apps through “Libraries.”

For brand templates, Canva also offers a very helpful resource called “Reports.” Once templates have been shared with a library’s Canva team, team administrators can check “Reports” to see which templates are the most popular among team members. By comparing usage numbers, administrators can determine which templates are best serving their team and apply characteristics from successful designs to future templates.

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3.) Rethink your file-sharing strategies

Sharing files is a key step in a library’s design process. Between saving, uploading, and sending files, sharing designs can be time-consuming. This is especially true for projects that require several edits, leading to several files being created, sent, deleted, and sent again.

Libraries can cut down on time spent sharing files by simply sharing links to files. Adobe Creative Cloud apps, Adobe Express, and Canva offer options for creating shareable links that allow collaborators to view and comment on a design. Not only does this remove the need for downloading and uploading files, but it also allows collaborators to see edits as they are being made, reducing time spent on back-and-forth communication.

Canva also allows teams to create team-wide folders. Team members can upload files directly from the design workspace, making materials available to a wider audience while further decreasing the time spent downloading files and sending emails.

4.) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Once libraries have created the resources necessary to implement a style guide, it is also important that they educate their team on how to use these resources. Libraries can start by creating a simple user guide for designers in any library department. For example, if most staff members use Canva for designing, the library could create a Canva Guide that teaches team members how to access the brand kit, how to use brand templates, how to share files with team members, and more.

Other steps that libraries can take to better communicate with and empower their teams to design polished, branded materials include scheduling regular meetings with anyone who is designing for the library, recording trainings on in-depth design topics, and creating orientation materials for new staff members.

In Conclusion

Graphic design can, at times, be a time-consuming process, especially for a fast-paced environment like a library. However, by using these tips, libraries can ensure that the work that they are putting in now will make a difference in their organization’s workflow for years to come.

We will be back with another interesting article from the library world soon!

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MiKayla Carter

MiKayla Carter is the Graphic Designer for Lexington Public Library in Lexington, Kentucky. She has worked in both academic and public library marketing, leveraging her knowledge in graphic design to enhance communications and connect the library with the community that it serves.


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