As winter arrives, libraries start planning for what is arguably their biggest and most important program of the year – Summer Reading! Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with LibraryAware Graphic Designer Leah White about the planning and inspiration that goes into creating LibraryAware’s extensive suite of templates to promote and support summer reading.
We're so proud to offer original artwork to our customers and I know you start thinking about the artwork for summer reading long before the templates launch. Where does your inspiration come from?
My starting place is the theme. Fortunately for 2024, both the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) and iREAD have nature and being outdoors as underlying themes. After that, I created lists of ideas and keywords around the theme. To fine-tune the ideas for our current templates, I looked at some of my favorite design sites for inspiration around the outdoors, conservation, and nature. I kept coming back around to treehouses. I’ve always loved the idea of a treehouse where reading could happen and that became my central design focal point.
I made color palettes and mood boards, adding images and swatches. From there I started drawing just using shapes and very rough sketches, trying out different looks. Then, the critters and other elements of the scene started falling into place.
A lot of the time I just happen into new ideas, which is exciting. It’s about always keeping an open mind to possibilities.
What style of illustration is your favorite to create?
I like bold, bright, and colorful illustrative scenes. And I like to add quirky little elements. I also really like having cartoon-like animals do human things, anthropomorphizing animals. I love that. This year’s CSLP and iREAD themes are just begging for an outdoor scene of animals exploring and working in the woods. Because who doesn’t love an animal pushing a wheelbarrow, right?
What trends are you seeing in summer reading programs and activities?
It’s become more of a whole library experience, not just reading. There are more programs, and inclusive programs for that matter: Kits you check out from the library, outreach that libraries do in the community, scavenger hunts, and community partnerships. Just more community building.
You have a background in working in libraries. How has that experience helped you with the summer reading template design process?
My library experience has helped me know what kinds of templates to create (Bingo cards! Reading logs!) and I understand the process that libraries go through to prepare. I also work hard to get our templates done and into LibraryAware in the middle of winter because I know first-hand that libraries start preparing far before summer. So, I want LibraryAware to be an easy resource to turn to.
What are your favorite types of templates to design, and can you give us a hint about which new summer reading template you’re most excited about?
Bingo cards are really fun to create. I love setting up the squares and coming up with reading prompts and activities. I also love creating reading logs, especially when I can design one that incorporates the theme in a fun way. For example, last summer I created a reading log and activities passport that looked like an explorer’s map. I want to inspire libraries to use something different and engaging. Coming up with new ideas for reading logs and reading challenges are my favorite things to do.