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What is Your Library’s Visual Image?

I was thinking about this today. I was looking at a few library websites and found so many of them dour. When did looking useful and professional mutate to mean plain, verging on dull, boring and unengaging?
I use a site called iStockphoto.com. I got this picture there a few minutes ago and acquired the lawful rights for this blog posting and future powerpoints. You can acquire stuff in any size and resolution – for everything from blog postings, to newsletters, to websites, posters, and billboards.
iStock_000006351782Small%5B1%5D.jpg
I am sure other photo sites do neat things. I’ve just gotten used to iStockphoto.com and have a deposit account there. They make it easy to purchase but that’s not what I like best. It used to be that most of the time when I’m looking for photos to illustrate a concept I have to think up the metaphor and then search on a noun. Suppose I want to visually demonstrate inflexibility. I think about searching on rocks, walls, concrete, etc. If I search on inflexible on this site I get tons of visuals. It’s the same for any emotional word, verb or concept. I continue to be amazed. I bought pictures for ‘cool’, ‘ecstatic’, ‘engaged (working)’, etc. Honestly, it was fun.
Libraries need to do their absolute best at engaging and connecting with users on an emotional level – now more than ever. Look at the pictures and graphics you use to lift your words off the page – or webpage. Would you use nouns to describe them? Or do verbs, feelings and actions come to mind? Are there people there? Are they breaking the fourth wall and reaching out to you? Are there hands? I once read that humans respond emotinaly most to hands and faces. How many hands and faces are there in your library presence? Are there cold book covers or someone holding books out to you?
Is a few hundred dollars in legal images the difference between a good site and a great presence and engagement? It might be.
The kid above is my wallpaper now because everyone needs to see someone who’s truly engaged and having fun so that this kid will reconnect me with that feeling. I think happy first. That’s good.
Of course, you too could create great digital pictures with a great concept, cute kids and some fingerpaint. Hey, that sounds like a library program! Just put plastic on the rug and go for it. As my eldest kid once told his grade 6 school librarian, “Libraries aren’t rug museums”.
And pictures should be engaging or not there at all.
Stephen

Posted on: February 18, 2009, 11:51 am Category: Uncategorized

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