DBL’s Feed Experiencing A Glitch

The DBL blog team wishes to thank everyone who has visited the blog, and we appreciate the supportive and positive comments received so far. It sounds like we’ve set some high expectations and we’ll do our best to meet them. And thanks to all you bloggers who posted about DBL to help spread the word to the library community. Just this week over 150 folks have subscribed to our feed on Bloglines.

While we hoped our first week would be a smooth one it appears we are suffering from at least one significant technical glitch. We have discovered that our feed isn’t working in most of the major news aggregators like Bloglines. The subscription will work, but new posts are not being picked up. So for that time being you will not see new items for DBL in your aggregator. We are working to correct this and hope to have it working correctly soon. In the meantime, please try to stop by for our latest posts.

 

Empathic Problem Solving (The Library as Remedy)

Design Thinking is not about bricks or clicks. It’s not about interior space or web usability, although both of those topics should be addressed. No, Design Thinking is about solving problems. This requires a cultural shift for libraries, since we tend to have a narrow world view. Librarians take pride in critical thinking, narrowing down concepts, whereas Design Thinking is quite the opposite. It’s about generating numerous ideas and building up the possibilities. The most practical solution is not always the best. 10 good ideas are more valuable than 1 great idea.

An approach that I have been exploring over the past year is Empathic Design. I don’t simply ask patrons how we might improve or what they would like to see differently, but instead focus on the problems they encounter not only with the Library, but academically, socially, everything. I want to know where they fail, where things go wrong, as well as what works. I want to understand their total experience. This doesn’t happen through just focus groups or surveys– it comes from being out in the field and gaining trust.

Design Thinking focuses on understanding and defining problems, and then making improvements to address those needs. This requires broad perceptions, which can be a challenge since the concept of libraries is so engrained in our minds and theirs too. People toss the “outside the box” phrase around too much, but it takes great imagination to break-through stereotypes and expectations. Simply asking patrons what they want will only result in them trying to tell us what they think we want to hear. Instead, I want to examine the big picture and then build or reshape services to address actual needs. Let’s target problem areas that we can fix and then promote the value that we are providing: The Library as Remedy.

An Introduction – Jill Stover

Since becoming the Undergraduate Services Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University, I’ve been fascinated by anything and everything service-related – developing and implementing services, evaluating them, promoting them – you name it. As a new professional, I had (and still have) lots of questions about how to provide our undergraduates with the best services possible. To find answers, I turned to the field of Business, and Marketing in particular. Through coursework, a hefty amount of reading, talking with professionals, and trial and error, I’m discovering many useful models and approaches that librarians would do well to adopt. I write about these findings in my blog, Library Marketing, and, to a lesser extent, on KnowThis.com. When Steven Bell approached me about participating in Designing Better Libraries, I eagerly accepted his offer because it presented an intriguing opportunity to view library services through a unique lens – design. Design as we’re thinking of it, much like Marketing, involves carefully constructing user experiences that are meaningful and useful. I’m excited to see where this project goes and to hear your comments and insights.

For my part, I’m going to focus much of my exploration on DBL on creativity and innovation. Innovation gets a lot of attention in the Business literature these days, as well as in other places. I plan to begin my participation in DBL by writing about what this literature has to say on the topic. In doing so, I hope to establish a foundation we can build on and begin to get a firm footing on what innovation is, its importance, and how we can foster innovation-friendly library environments and practices.

My next post will begin to address some of these questions by investigating what it means to be creative/innovative and why we should be talking about these issues in the context of designing better user experiences. I’ll then begin a series of literature reviews to get the discussion moving. From there, who knows. (Not knowing where exactly this will lead is part of the fun!) Also, don’t be surprised if Marketing topics pop up along the way.

I hope you’ll enjoy following this blog and sharing your own thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

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.