Using Desktop Publishing to Create Newsletters, Handouts, and Web Pages

Preface

The library is fundamentally a communications center and librarians are in the business of communicating information to a variety of publics in a variety of formats. Often, this communication is face-to-face with a patron at the reference desk or a colleague at a meeting. However, all communication is not verbal. What if a reference patron needs to know how to use a particular electronic database the library has and the reference librarian is busy with other questions or the desk is not staffed at the time? A library guide can be a good substitute. What if a library wants to describe new services to its clientele or if a group of librarians needs to announce upcoming local events? A newsletter seems to fit the bill. What if a library wants to open its electronic doors when its physical doors are locked and its staff has gone home? A site on the World Wide Web sounds about right.

The need for libraries to communicate information is clear. What should be equally clear is the need to communicate effectively so that the message sent is the message received. This is where desktop publishing comes in. Desktop publishing puts the power and possibilities of publishing, of sharing information with the public, on an individual's desktop. It's easy; it's fun, but there are guidelines to follow to do so effectively. This book is about those guidelines.

The book is divided into four sections. The chapters in the first section provide an overview of the basic elements of desktop publishing. There the reader can find information on the hardware and software necessary for both a minimum and an optimum operation. In this section, one can also learn the basic elements of design. Effective design is the primary difference between a publication that is used and one that is thrown away. The building blocks of design outlined here are layout, type fonts and graphic elements such as illustrations and photographs.

Sections two, three and four deal with specific library applications for desktop publishing: library guides, organizational newsletters and World Wide Web home pages. While each incorporates the basic principles outlined in section one, there are significant differences between these types of publications. Planning, producing and publishing library guides pose different challenges than newsletters. A Web page which exists primarily in the ether of cyberspace and is accessible essentially to the entire world is whole new species with entirely new properties and challenges wholly separate from the world of paper.

The figures and illustrations in this book were created largely with Pagemaker and WordPerfect in a Windows environment because that is what I have on my desktop. There are many other fine programs available for both MAC and Windows environments, however, and this book is not intended to be a primer on either Pagemaker or WordPerfect. As such, specific program commands generally are not addressed; instead, the focus is a practical discussion of the issues of desktop publishing.

The overall aim of this book is to help readers create their own publications and to make those publications look sharp, read well and be used. Whether it's an instructional library guide for patrons, a newsletter for an institution or professional association or a home page mounted on the World Wide Web, a smart, attractive publication speaks highly of the librarians who created it and the library it represents.


from Using Desktop Publishing to Create Newsletters, Handouts, and Web Pages: A How-To- Do-It Manual for Librarians. by John Maxymuk. Copyright 1996. Available from Neal-Schuman Publishers.

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Updated 8/15/05