Work inspiration with Amanda L. Goodman

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Amanda L. Goodman

UX librarian, WordPress instructor and website builder

My name is Amanda L. Goodman and I'm a librarian, freelance WordPress instructor, website builder, artist, and author. I work at Darien Library, a public library in Connecticut, as a user experience (UX) librarian. I manage the website, social media, create most of the publicity materials, teach tech classes, and make my coworkers' dreams a reality. After work, I teach online WordPress classes for other library professionals and build websites for small libraries. While I mentally describe myself as an artist first, my biggest recent achievement was becoming an author with the publication of The Comparative Guide to WordPress in Libraries: A LITA Guide


At home, I have a self-built Windows 7 machine with a 22" and 19" monitors. My computer's parts are an assortment of older pieces that got rolled into the new setup. It's been a power machine, but at three years of age, it's ready for an upgrade. I bought a Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch tablet with lofty ideas of getting into digital art. However, I haven't found a great way position the tablet on my desk to really get into using it. Trying to find a great location for the tablet on Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, and DeviantArt hasn't turned up anything useful. Help? On the other side of me, there's a Canon CanoScan 5600F which I love. It'll scan flat pictures, negatives, and slides. I love it so much that when I purchased equipment for our Digital Media Lab at work, I bought one for it too. It has received rave reviews from the library's patrons. 

On the go, I have a Nook Color which I installed Cyanogenmod 7 on. I used it a lot on cross-country flights to watch TV shows on and read tech books. Then I picked up a smartphone (current one: Samsung Galaxy Note 2) and my Nook Color has been languishing on my desk ever since. I broke the screen on my phone a couple months ago. My spouse and I replaced the screen but it's no longer touch sensitive, so I have to use the stylus all the time which isn't that big of a deal. The phone is mostly for reading news websites and ebooks. I rarely call anyone anymore thanks to Google Hangouts. My netbook is an Acer Aspire One purchased in 2009. It got me through grad school and several library conferences, but it suffered massive failure while trying to use it at a recent National Novel Writing Month session. 

At work, I have a Mac Pro with two monitors on the left. On the right is a Windows 7 PC with one monitor. The most difficult thing was getting used to switching between the separate mice. I can do it seamlessly now! My special vendetta against Macs is continuously justified by my work computer when I compare it to my home machine. At the same time, I have to confess to a passionate love for Keynote and various Mac-only video editing software.

For drawing and note taking, I use an assortment of notebooks which I am brand loyal to. My personal artwork is done in Sketchbook: Archival Quality Drawing Paper because 1) I love the coil binder so the notebook lies flat and 2) the feel of the paper. I also have a few pocket sized Moleskines which I carry in my purse for sudden inspiration kicks. At work, I use $4 sketchbooks from Walmart. I can't find a link to the notebook online, but I found a stash at my local store and bought them. They're coil-bound with thick paper and a sturdy cardboard back cover. I fill them up with notes and then stick sticky page-markers on top so I can quickly reference important stuff. 

I used to use just any ol' 0.7 mm mechanical pencil until my best friend bought me a Graphgear 1000 0.5 mm Mechanical drawing pencil. It's a gorgeous piece of hardware that feels like a lifelong companion. My favorite bit is that you can recall the lead so you're not breaking it off every time you toss the pencil into a cup. Otherwise, I use a Zebra F-301 Compact pen in my Moleskine notebooks. It's smooth to use and does not through the notebook's pages. I've been using mine since 2008 and still have not had to change out the ink. 


Windows 7 (by category)

  • Chrome Browser with these extensions: LastPass, Google Hangouts, FreshStart, Evernote, Lazarus, and AdBlock Plus.
  • Steam (to chat with my best friend)
  • Google Drive, Dropbox, and SkyDrive for cloud backup
  • Photoshop, Pixlr Editor, and Windows 7 Paint
  • Microsoft OneNote, Word, and
  • Filezilla
  • Calibre
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Windows 7 Sticky Notes
  • Sublime Text 2
  • Camtasia 
  • Internet Explorer for website testing

Mac (by category)

  • Final Cut Pro X and iMovie
  • Audacity
  • Sublime Text 2
  • Terminal for Github
  • Browsers: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera
  • Tweetdeck
  • Filezilla

Dream Setup

My dream setup would have to be configured at home. I would like to try out a standing desk and having three monitors that match. My current desk is a 6 ft Vika desk sitting on two file cabinets. I don't have any room to place my keyboard underneath the desk which would be great to have more room to spread out my projects in front of me. Also monitor arms for a nice big HA! to my cats when they try to block my view. It'd be awesome to put blackout curtains up, but since this is also the master bedroom, my spouse won't allow me to do that. Finally, I'd love to have easy access to a giant flatbed scanner. I used to use a $2,000 one back when I was an intern and it was a dream. 

Work Inspiration

As a librarian, the needs and wants of the Library's patrons drive what I do. I produce everything by thinking about how this will look and be read by someone. I want to try and capture the patron's attention and get the information they need to them fast. When I was producing video work, I kept a strict eye for consistency of elements from scene to scene. I bring this to my work but I've found that it's much harder to get other people to pay attention to the details so everything we produce has a seamless feel to them. For example, making sure the date format is written correctly every time. When I get stuck or am unsure how a project will be perceived, I Google Image search ideas (e.g. poster design) or write up a brief description of a new program and email it to a few patrons' whose feedback I trust. I also print out screenshots of inspiring website designs and keep them on a large corkboard by my work desk.

For general design inspiration, I follow a lot of people on Twitter, Tumblr, and Deviantart. It amazes me what people produce and are so willing to share. I've been saving inspirational artwork to my computer for years and when I get stuck, I got through my folder to look for something to capture my imagination. 

Anything else I need for a website project, I'll do the nitty gritty work of research. For example, in my book, I probably looked at a minimum of a thousand library websites. It took a couple months to do this, but I feel that I selected the best projects to share with my readers.