I am not sure I believe it’s March already, but I guess I’m going to have to trust my calendar on that one. It was a busy fall semester over here in the Academic Wing of the Penn Museum, and I have been enjoying all our spring programming so far—stay tuned for more information on that.
As the Museum Library Programming and Instruction Intern, the focus of my work has been on helping to develop and implement the great programs and events we host at the library, which also includes getting the word out about what is happening. Whether it is our monthly “Off the Shelf” pop-up event, a workshop on the latest and best tools for research, or even our new furniture—have you tried our comfy chairs yet?—a lot has happened this year, and I have been lucky enough to be behind the scenes for almost every step.
One of the ways I have been assisting is by creating unique posters for events and workshops. Through this process, I have seen how important it is to be mindful of audience, purpose, and the event itself—all three need to be present on the page, something I remind myself of as I work through many iterations of posters along the way.
The preparation for our monthly “Off the Shelf” event requires the most research and attention to detail. Deb Stewart, the guest curator, and I go through the rare volumes and select an image or two that we feel is representative of the subject matter and that have great potential for posters. From there, we carefully scan or photograph the image in-house. I set about incorporating that image onto the page, pushing text around, changing the image size, and experimenting with layout. As someone whose only experience with design was multiple viewings of the documentary “Helvetica” (highly recommended), it was a challenge to navigate not only the software involved but the actual look of it. I’m a writer, so I know what it’s like to have a great idea in my head only to see that great idea look, well, not-so-great when translated to the page. That is where the revision comes in, the reminder that our first (and second and third) drafts are merely practice to get us where we need to be.
Poster design, to me, is an apt illustration of a greater lesson I have learned through the TRL Internship Program. It has taught me about the need to communicate effectively and concisely, to consider what our audience (the patron) needs from us. Along with stating the details of an event, I want to inspire curiosity and a sense of welcome with each poster, and this mindset applies to every communication I do on behalf of the Museum Library. Each “Off the Shelf” poster, Facebook post, and casual conversation about our resources is an invitation to engage. This internship has given me many wonderful opportunities to extend these invitations, and I look forward to even more in the coming semester.