How A Design Thinking Approach Can Help Librarians

That’s what I originally titled a new article I authored for American Libraries. The editors at American Libraries renamed the article “Design Thinking” and published it in the January-February 2008 issue. Some of you may get AL, others can pick up a copy at the American Libraries Association Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia (they give out copies of the latest AL issue there), but if neither of those options works for you I have received permission from the folks at American Libraries (much appreciated!) to make a copy available on my website. I hope you enjoy the article, and look forward to any feedback or comments. I’m always open to your ideas for what I can do better to more effectively communicate about design thinking and its applications for the library profession.

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.

3 thoughts on “How A Design Thinking Approach Can Help Librarians”

  1. Steven, your article was an excellent primer on using the practices of design to improve the library experience. I was one of the lead designers from MAYA on the Carnegie Library (CLP) project and learned a great deal about the challenges that libraries face (and the incredible value they bring to the community).

    One important correction/addition… you mention that MAYA “designed” the Carnegie Library, Edge Architecture was the lead on designing the physical environment and we were partners with them, Landesberg Design (a graphic designer firm), and the librarians themselves in the design of the experience.

    MAYA’s role was that of information architect and user-experience design lead. Our human-centered practices augmented a powerful architectural vision by focusing on the users rather than the “plumbing” of library design.

    I think the real secret of the project was this open collaboration and willingness to experiment and I would hate for that to get lost in our (MAYA’s) passion (yes we get pretty talkative and lose sight of this ourselves sometimes) to share our discoveries and experiences in this fascinating area.

    Thanks again for this wonderful article. I hope more libraries can learn from our efforts and extend this work even further.
    Mick

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