Transformational Collaboration: A reflection on the process of creating an academic poster.
by Jesse Waters, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
I recently had a poster accepted to the annual Health Science Library Group Conference being held in May. In this blog post I will detail the creative process, the feedback I received from other information professionals, and how said feedback transformed the project.
The theme of the conference is the Skillset of a Health Science Librarian, so I decided I should focus on my own experience and narrowed the theme of the poster down to the Skillset of a Health Science Library Assistant. After a couple of days of thinking about the poster, I had a pretty clear idea how I wanted it to look and the message that I wanted to convey. Above all I wanted it to be a colourful, eye-catching poster that was not heavy on text. However, I also wanted to highlight the diverse skillset of a library assistant in a health science library.
I began to think about, and discuss with other staff members, the diverse set of skills that library assistants possess- customer service, library knowledge, communication skills, research and information technology skills. I considered other skills that we possess such as knowledge of our customer needs and the physical and electronic resources available in our library. And then (yes I know it just keeps going!) I thought about familiarity with health and medicine. However, not every library assistant in a health science library possesses all these skills immediately and some are grown and developed over time. Thus, I decided to use the format of a wheel divided into three main subcategories to present the information clearly:
1. Skills required immediately.
2. Skills that develop with familiarity in your new environment.
3. Skills that develop over time.
With a theme and an idea for the look and feel of the poster in mind, I decided I should find a way to create the poster. With a quick Google search using the eloquent search term- 'Create poster free', I found a fantastic tool called Canva, started to play with it and was well on my way. I used Pixabay to source some images free from the chains of copyright, but as I was scrolling through tons of stock images that looked dated and uninteresting, an article that I had read way back in October meandered from my subconscious and deposited an idea that my poster benefited greatly from.
Sourced from Pixabay.
I was encouraged to use emoji`s (or at least pictures that resembled emojis which I sourced from Pixabay) from a BBC article that pondered whether emoji`s would evolve into a new language "which could compete with English in global usage" based on their popularity in modern society (Cohn, 2015). By using emoji`s, I hoped that the poster would be visual, and could be understood on a basic level by somebody without fluency in English.
When I was pleased with my poster, I sought feedback from a couple of my information-professional colleagues. I sent the file to a former lecturer from UCD and we met for coffee the next day. I was quite disappointed to hear that she found it to be eye-catching, but she originally wasn't a huge fan of the bright cartoon emoji`s I had used. I explained my reasons for using them and she advised me to stick to my guns. I then sent the file to another colleague from a health science library, and was encouraged to add more text to the poster to make it more academic in style and tone. Even though I was quite opposed to the idea, I took her advice and made a second draft which contained text boxes expanding on the duties of library assistants using information I had researched from job adverts for library assistants. The inclusion of the text boxes did not take from the visual aspects and added a great deal more information to the poster. The following image is an incomplete draft of the poster.
Draft near completion, see finished product at HSLG Conference May 12-13.
In Beyond the Silos of the LAM's, Zorich et al state that collaboration is a transformational process (2008). I cannot recommend seeking feedback enough on any project you work on. With each person who offered recommendations or thoughts on the project, from my initial interactions with immediate co-workers to other contacts, the poster was altered slightly. I reflected on both positive and negative comments received, and the final poster was an improved, more considered version of my original vision due to the recommendations of others.
- `Beyond the silos of the LAMS – Collaboration among libraries, archives, and museums`, Diane M. Zorich, Gunter Waibel, and Ricky Erway. OCLC, 2008, Accessed on 17/4/2016 http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/publications/library/200 8/2008-05.pdf
- `Will emoji`s become a new language`, Neil Cohn. BBC, 2015. Accessed on 17/4/2016 http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151012-will-emoji-become-anew-language