Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Project Genre-fy the Fiction Section - New Signage

As I was finishing moving our fiction section into the new genre sections, I realized that I was going to need new signage.  As students are browsing for books I really want to make sure that the kids can see directly where to go to find their favorite genres, while making browsing a little more user friendly.

When I checked out Tiffany Whitehead's (@librarian_tiff) post "Ditching Dewey Choosing Genre Categories" I noticed the really cool posters she had to go along with her genre sections.  They had a kind of word cloud feel to them that I really liked. And I thought it would be neat to combine a word cloud that described the section with a picture of the genre sticker I used.  That way my signs would be informative and model a consistent design.  

Not Your Ordinary Word Clouds

For this particular design concept, Wordle, my go-to word cloud generator, just wasn't going to do.  The Edudemic post "9 Word Cloud Generators that Aren't Wordle" led me to Tagul.  You can set up a free account and then create word clouds in recognizable shapes in custom colors.  After playing around with it for a bit, I really started to get a feel for how things worked. 

This is actually one of the word cloud shapes they have available to use. I couldn't believe how great the word clouds were turning out.

You can check out (and grab) all of the word clouds I created [here].

Creating the Signs

With my word clouds finished, I had to come up with an appealing design that clearly identified genre sections.  I played around with some photo editing software that I had, but really wasn't coming up with anything I liked.  I finally decided to keep it simple and stick with what I know and use a lot - Canva

Canva is a super easy, online graphic design program that lets you create designs and save them as PDFs or JPEGs.  They have plenty of free design elements you can use to create original posters, images and logos, and it's super user friendly.  In no time I had combined my word cloud with fun text and pictures of the genre stickers I was using. 

I saved each Canva I made as both a PDF and JPEG.  PDFs are large and could be printed out on poster sized paper, but at $17.99 a piece plus framing, that wasn't going to be in my budget for this year.  Instead I printed the PDFs out on regular size paper and put them in plastic frames.

Section Dividers: The Last Big Challenge

All that was really left at this point was to come up with a way to share them on the shelves as a way to clearly delineate the new sections. 

I've seen some great examples of people using empty binders to separate sections, and of course you can buy really nice shelf dividers from some place like Demco, but I wanted something fairly unique, inexpensive, and height in my fiction section is pretty short, so binders - even if they were customized - weren't going to fit.  

For a few weeks I was tossing around the idea of custom cutting wood and then using some sort of mod podge collage to represent the section.  I still think that would've been a pretty fun idea, but I was worried about the time and expense to try to do something like that, just to fail or run out of time before the start of school.  

That's about the time that I realized that I had tons of VHS tapes that needed to be weeded, and VHS tape have really sweet, durable plastic containers.  I mean these VHS tapes had to have been from the 1990s and the containers were still in mint condition!  They're the perfect height and width for section dividers, and they have an excellent plastic cover with removable insert!

Getting ready to repurpose!
I just had to clean up the old cases by removing stickers and black magic marker. Dry erase board marker over your permanent magic marker, by the way really does take the magic marker off.  I am still working on getting the glue off from the barcodes, but I think with enough Goof Off it will happen!

Expo marker takes off magic marker.
I next used Microsoft Word to combine my Canva created word cloud images with genre titles that would sit on the spine of the repurposed VHS tape container.  It took a little maneuvering, but once I had things lined up, I used my first design as a template for all the rest, just changing the names and swapping out the image.

I have to say, I'm pretty happy with the results.  The spines stand out pretty clearly at the beginning of each section, and once kids start checking out books, I'll be able to face them out on the shelf to make them even more visible.

I've also ordered some 3/4 inch clip on sign holders that I can use to draw attention to popular series and authors. Those aren't in yet, which is good because I need a bit of time to figure out exactly what I'm going to feature using those.