1501C-2 - Accessola2

Exhibits and Events
at Carleton University Library
The creative process of designing and producing
exhibits in an academic library
Learning Outcomes
• The creative process: from idea to design
• The principles of good design and
experience design
• Tips for running an exhibits program
• Exhibits at MacOdrum Library
• Ideas and inspiration
• Creating an experience
for your viewer
Academic libraries and creativity
Libraries are full of creative people.
Academic librarians are good at research.
We have connections to the experts on campus.
The experts are also our audience.
Exhibits in an academic environment: is both an
intellectual and a creative process.
“We like to do exhibits; it is fun, allows
creativity, shows off materials, and slips in some
education along the way” – Erma Loveland*
Exhibits are:
“…an additional means of discourse, which
allows creativity in the profession”
-Tom Beck*
* “Library Exhibits” exlibris@library.berkeley.edu. Exhibits in Libraries; A Practical Guide. p. 6
• Raises the library’s visibility on campus
• Allows librarians working on exhibits another
way to demonstrate their knowledge and
• Engages the university community
• Provides opportunities to forge relationships
with colleagues in other disciplines
Even more advantages
• Demonstrates the value of the library in a
tangible way
• Features parts of an academic library’s large
collection and increases their visibility
• Showcases unique and special items
• Provide us with a different way of
communicating the value of our work.
Exhibits: a scholarly pursuit?
Producing an exhibit can be compared to writing an
academic paper
Same process:
• select a topic
• Locate and explore the sources
• Develop a theme or thesis
• Evaluate and select material to illustrate and interpret
the theme
• Assemble and present the material in the best manner
to convey the theme
• Publish the results, by putting it on public display
• “At it’s best, the academic library exhibit is a
scholarly effort, subject to review by a large
*Lucy S. Caswell “Building a strategy for academic library exhibits” College and Research Library
News 46 (April 1985) p. 168
The Challenges
An exhibit:
• must be technically accurate and objective
• it will be judged by a wide audience, including the
experts, and must be understood by everybody
• it must be attractively presented
•it must contain the best possible physical evidence to
support the exhibit’s theme
•it must appeal to the intellect as well as the emotions
•and if that is not enough, it has to be entertaining too!
One of our biggest challenges:
Getting students to stop and look
“The power of the object displayed to stop the viewer
in his tracks, to convey an arresting sense of
* Stephen Goldblatt “Resonance and Wonder” ch. 3 in Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and
Politics of Museum Displays. Steven D. Lavine. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1991. P.
First Steps
Decide who will coordinate the program
Develop policies and guidelines
Consider goals and objectives
Provide an online form for submitting
Ideas and where they come from
• Keep track of anniversaries, and
historical events
• Feature special collections, gift
collections honouring donors
and their families
• Look for travelling exhibitions
from embassies, museums, and
• Feature university department
More Ideas…
• Coordinate with other events on campus.
• Keep current about research and publishing on
• Approach experts on campus, highlight scholarly
efforts of faculty, graduate students and alumni.
• Approach subject specialists who can suggest the
names of faculty, projects, and institutes that may lead
to interesting topics
• Look at library websites
• Build it and they will come – one exhibit can lead to
more proposals
Experience Design
UX = User Experience:
The quality of the experience a user has while
interacting with a design
Experience Design = the practice of designing products,
processes, services, events, and environments with
close attention paid to the quality of the user
Gel and Creative Good
Gel: A conference for leaders and innovators
who care about the customer experience,
founded by Mark Hurst from Creative Good.
“A conference focused on good experience in all
its forms, in art, business, technology, society,
and life”.
- Mark Hurst
Principles of Experience Design
• Make a good first impression
• Present fewer choices – focus on the essential and
not the “nice to haves”
• Limit distractions - less is more
• Create a visual hierarchy; group related objects near
each other
• Avoid jargon
• Provide signposts and clues
• Use Emotion
• Surprise people in a magical way!
• Ideas (knowledge, information)
• People (their biographies, stories,
• Objects (artifacts, descriptions of
• Physical (colour, movement, sights,
sounds, touch)
“Displays that have closely related and equally strong
Ideas, People, Object, and Physical elements are most
likely to result “flip” experiences.” *
“Exhibition designers can create conditions whereby
visitors may have serendipitous surprises that “flip”
them into enjoying an unexpected experience.”**
* Pekarik et al. “IPOP: A Theory of Experience Design” Curator: The Museum Journal vol. 57. no. 1
(January 2014) p. 19
** Beghetto, R.A. “The Exhibit as Planned Versus the Exhibit as Experienced” Curator: The
Museum Journal vol. 5 no. 1, (anuary 2014) p. 2
IPOP in practice
• Attract – what people notice
• Engage – What people do, influences their
• Flip – how people judge the quality of the
experience, if they have an additional
unexpected experience, that is meaningful and
Andrew J. Pekarik et al. “IPOP: A Theory of Experience Design”, Curator: The Museum Journal.
Vol. 57 no. 1. (January 2014) p. 11-12.
Good rules for text and labels
• Labels should be short and focused
• Write in a style everyone will understand: use
an active voice, everyday vocabulary
• Use lots of white space and margins
• Point size should be no smaller than 20
• Main title should be readable at a distance
• Each label should be able to stand alone.
For more on on typographical design consult: Robin Williams The
Non-Designer’s Design Book (2008).
Types of Exhibit Text
• Title
• Introductory text – introduces the main idea
• Group or section text – introduces the main
themes or groups of objects
• Object labels – identifies individual items and
how each connects with your main idea
• Credits and acknowledgements
Good exhibit practices:
Always have an educational objective
Choose objects that will help tell the story
Use space effectively
Use colour consistently
Layer your content
The lay-out should be logical and clear
All textual content should have a high professional
• Maintain your exhibit
• Trust your creative instincts
The Exhibit Design Process
• Think of why and how you
will produce the exhibit
• Decide on the overall theme
• Develop and design the
• Make lists, use checklists
Write and design the text
Do a trial set-up
Publicize the exhibit
Install the exhibit
Provide access to additional
• Evaluate and document
Exhibits Planning Check-list
To do immediately:
Set opening and closing dates and reserve
exhibit space
Identify exhibit goals
Get approval from Library management
To do in planning stage:
Research exhibit topic and narrow the theme
Develop initial design ideas
Define space requirements
Determine resources needed, staff, supplies,
costs of materials, equipment
List material (books, objects, posters, etc.) to
be used in exhibit
To do at the production stage:
Plan, write and edit the text/captions
Finalize the design
Create any props
Have a trial set-up, try out layout, placement
Create publicity plan, alert webmaster
To do the week before the opening:
Gather all material to be displayed
Print the text and captions; do any mounting
Gather all tools, equipment needed
Send text for publicity to webmaster
To do the week of the installation:
Clean and prepare the space and/or display
Install the exhibit
To do during the and after exhibit:
Maintain and clean the exhibit and monitor
environmental conditions
Evaluate and document the exhibit (photos and
Take down exhibit
Return materials
Tips on supplies and equipment
• Print your text on cover stock for quick professional
captions and labels
• Use acrylic stands to prop up text pieces
• Get good quality book stands
• Collect fabric (cotton, velvet) in various solid colours
• Have the right equipment: a paper cutter, cutting
boards, rulers, and cutting blades, and a well-stocked
tool box.
Connecting your exhibit to more resources
Use technology to provide resources for further
• Provide a QR Code
• Put up a Webpage for your exhibit
• Exhibits can complement an event on campus
• An exhibit can have events associated with it:
lectures, book-talks, receptions
• The library can host events such as local
community or campus events, concerts,
events to support instruction on campus,
special annual events such as GIS Week
MacOdrum Library’s Exhibit/Events
• History
• Renovations 2013
• New program of exhibits and events 2013 to
From idea to designing an experience
• Freedom to Read week
• Idea: an exhibit of banned and challenged
• How to involve the viewer and create an
• Plan an event: a public reading from various
banned books
Freedom to Read exhibit Prototype for “peep show”.
Center fold: topless sun bather in Where’s Waldo.
Freedom to Read exhibit
• Choose a catchy title
• Narrow the focus to books
banned or challenged in
• Print the free poster pdfs
from Freedom to Read
website and display items
from this year’s Kit
• Use colours from poster and
eye-catching yellow.
• Add a video.
For further reading…
• A bibliography is available in a Word