A Story Within a Story: The 2015 Lorain Public Library System Annual Report

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Few places inspire the imagination, take you on an unbelievable journey and put a world of information in your hands quite like a library. So when WhiteSpace was tasked with developing the 2015 annual report for the Lorain Public Library System, the solution was almost too obvious – tell a good story.

In the past, the Lorain Public Library System published its annual report in the local newspaper in a single, full-page ad. In recent years, it moved to the website. While having an online version created a wider readership, WhiteSpace pushed the idea even further.

Yeah – we know. Annual reports can sometimes sound about as fun and interesting as filling out your W2s, but with animation and scroll-through features, this annual report became much more than a recounting of figures, funds and attendance.

How we kicked it up a notch

From fantastic adventures with dragons to underwater exploration, WhiteSpace reimagined the traditional features of an annual report and interwove a story within the library’s story of 2015. By pairing narrative headlines with hand-drawn illustrations, we transformed the annual report from being, well, a report, to an interactive online experience.

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With focus areas like Director’s Desk, At Your Service and Financials, WhiteSpace saw the potential for these opening vignettes to complement the must-have information – both of which were amplified by the vivid illustrations and unique type. The bright colors and diverse characters turned the annual report into a celebration of the library’s accomplishments and success, while still communicating the essential information to the citizens of Lorain County and beyond.

So what started as an annual report turned into an opportunity – an opportunity for WhiteSpace to showcase our illustrative talents and HTML and Javascript programming capabilities. We also saw this as an opportunity for the library to tie its services to its messaging through storytelling and an engaging experience – two things libraries have long stood for in our communities.

Key Takeaways

When faced with a project that seems mundane at first, ask yourself three questions:

1. How can you reach your audience in a greater way? Ex: A newspaper has a large circulation, but an interactive online annual report? That’s a bit more likely to turn a few heads and get people to pay attention to what you’re doing and has much greater shelf life/longevity.

2. What are your strengths and how can you leverage them in a way that adds value and goes beyond the client’s expectations? Ex: Annual report? Meh. An animated story? Okay – yeah. Now we’re talking. 

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3. What story are you telling and what medium can support and extend it? We live in a story-driven world and being able to tell a good story is imperative. And what’s as important as the story? How you tell it. Ex: Telling a story about a library – a place literally filled with stories – makes for a logical connection. But making the story an interactive experience on a website entices more readers and reaches a greater audience.

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe here at WhiteSpace. Audience + how we can add crazy value + storytelling = good things. Check out the rest of our portfolio to see how we apply this to our other campaigns. And feel free to contact WhiteSpace if you have any questions or want more information.

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