Welcome to Designing Better Libraries

Into the already crowded landscape of library-related blogs we introduce something new. A commonality among library blogs is a tendency to point to the weaknesses and faults of our profession and how it inadequately delivers services. Customer service – it’s terrible. Competiveness – we don’t understand the concept. Technology – we must better understand our users needs. Search – Google makes us look inferior and hopelessly complex. Libraries – the facilities need vast improvement. Innovation – there’s not enough or it’s mostly “bandwagon innovation“. To an extent, that library bloggers point out these problems is a good thing. It’s important to recognize these issues so that we can work on improving them. That’s what Designing Better Libraries is all about; adapting new ways of thinking and acting that will promote the development and implementation of ideas, strategies and services that will create a better library experience for the users.

When the words design and library appear in the same sentence it typically relates to either the interior or exterior of a library facility. Designing Better Libraries will take a different approach, and our way of thinking and acting about design is far less about adding cafes and more comfortable furniture as the path to a better library. Instead we’ll be exploring a new way of tackling the ongoing challenge of identifying strategies and methods to improve our libraries so that our community members will feel more compelled to use our services and resources – so that we will become more indispensable to them. Designing Better Libraries invites you to join us in learning about design thinking, and the ways we can apply it to improve our processes of innovation and implementation. For additional information about and insight to Designing Better Libraries, take a look at our DBL Philosophy page.

So while there is certainly some value in grousing about libraries and all those things we need to do better, this blog will focus its efforts on offering new ways of thinking and acting to provide librarians with better strategies for harnessing both human and technology resources in designing better libraries. Our DBL blog team hopes you will join us in this endeavor by being a regular reader, and in time being part of our effort to share ideas about how we can use design to be better innovators who are able to  identify the right problems and use a thoughtful process to identify and implement the right solutions.

Author: StevenB

Steven Bell is currently Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University, and was previously Director of the Library at Philadelphia University. Steven is the author of two regular columns published by Library Journal, From the Bell Tower and Leading From the Library. With John Shank he is co-founder of the Blended Librarians Online Learning Community. Bell and Shank are also authors of the book Academic Librarianship by Design. Bell's latest book is Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership. More information is found at his website.

5 thoughts on “Welcome to Designing Better Libraries”

  1. Your philosophy fits in perfectly with a grant application we are currently drafting. It is good to know others are thinking along the same lines. We will certainly be reading and learning, and hopefully contributing.

  2. A very interesting blog. We are currently developing a proposal for public library development and we are trying to focus on building libraries that meet the needs of individual communities.. I will keep reading

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