A couple of weeks ago I attended a SLAV session with Kevin Hennah. Our junior school teacher-librarian had attended one of Kevin’s talks early in 2014, and had come back raving about all the ideas she’d seen and all the things she was going to implement.
Small, seemingly insignificant, changes can have an enormous impact on how our ‘customers’ perceive the library . . .
I had no idea how much of it had come out of that one–day session until I attended one myself. As Kevin talked about the ‘look’ a library has, and showed us numerous before and after photos, I began to understand why Beverly had returned from the 2014 session full of enthusiasm. Small, seemingly insignificant, changes can have an enormous impact on how our ‘customers’ perceive the library: its usefulness, its relevance, and its currency.
This week, I made one of my first ‘small’ changes. Since the refurbished library was launched at the start of 2010, there has been a small, grey sign above the hole in our desk where returns can be made. Perfectly adequate five years ago, the sign has become tatty, sad and invisible.
One of Kevin’s suggestions is to use vinyl lettering. Now, you can buy vinyl lettering from various suppliers, but you need to be confident that it will be done right, that the colours match your ‘brand’, and that you will get a return on your investment. No matter what signage you use, it’s got to look good!
Today I sat down and learned to use a new piece of software called Cricut-Craft Room. A Cricut (pronounced ‘cricket’) is a scrapbooking machine. It works like a laser cutter, but without the laser, using a sharp, needle-like cutter to cut out the shapes or letters. We’ve had a Cricut Expressions 2 machine for two years, and I’ve cut out a few letters in paper using it, but the screen is small, changing the letter size is fiddly, and it can be difficult to maintain a uniform size for the fonts. Frustrating.
Enter Cricut-Craft Room. Easy to download (a little tricky on a Mac, as it gets blocked, but you can fix that following the FAQs on the website) and easy to use, I created a new, die-cut, self-adhesive vinyl sign for our return chute.
It looks pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.
The ‘light-bulb moment’ in all this for me is that I’ve resisted downloading the software ever since we got the Cricut machine. ‘I’ll do it when I’ve got time’. ‘It will be too hard too learn’. ‘I haven’t got time now. I’ll do it later’. Yada, yada, yada. Why did I wait so long?!
The world is changing so fast that you really need to keep learning and learning and learning . . .
I have a favourite saying – It’s not a good day unless you learn something new. And although using the Cricut machine and software was a steep learning curve it was worth taking the risk – even for something as small as this. As an educator in the 21st century, I think that this is something that every one who works in schools should see as non-negotiable. The world is changing so fast that you really need to keep learning and learning and learning to stay ahead of the game.
I’ve since discovered that the most time-consuming part of the process is sticking the letters onto the surface – so much stress to get it right! – but it is so satisfying to see a boring part of your library transform into something useful.
Sometimes we just need a kick in the pants to propel us forward, or can only make a move when the need becomes so urgent we can’t ignore it anymore. Bring on the signs!
Miffy Farquharson is Head of Libraries at Mentone Grammar. Miffy is a teacher-librarian, Library Manager and Book Nut.
She aims to put the right resource into the right hands at the right time, and provide appropriate resources to students and teachers, using Library and Learning Management Systems, social networking and Web 2.0 tools. In her spare time (!), she is a judge for the Aurealis Awards.
She can be contacted at:
@miffyf02 (personal account) on Twitter
@libraryhelpmgs (school account) on Twitter
Miffy Reviews on Google+ – linked to the review blog – so don’t subscribe to both!