10 January 2008

How a design thinking approach can help librarians

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Design thinking and libraries
Steven Bell of the blog Designing Better Libraries has authored an article for the January-February 2008 issue of American Libraries on how a design thinking approach can help librarians.

“As a profession that mediates information from source to user—not unlike newspapers and travel agents—our future challenge is avoiding marginalization. We must determine how we fit into a world that defines an exceptional user experience as memorable, unique, and exquisitely simple. Identifying appropriate solutions will to some extent depend on our ability to adapt the IDEO method of design thinking into creating another emerging, for us at least, concept: the library user experience.” […]

“Where design thinking can really help librarians make a difference is in creating better library user experiences. The idea of a “user experience” may strike some librarians as somewhat superficial in that it may imply an effort to deliver style over substance. Yes, a library may need to work at developing an experience for its users, but the goal is to engage the people who use our libraries, and connect with them in a personal and memorable way. Consider the possibilities of creating library users who are passionate about the library. Organizations that achieve success in this way do so by giving users great experiences. They want to come back again and again. That’s why certain food and beverage outlets, theme entertainment companies, and even information providers create highly sustainable services. To emulate such practices, for a start, as a profession we need to move beyond thinking of our primary product as just a commodity to which we offer access.”

It’s all rather light fare for the UX professional but still nice to see that the user experience approach is making inroads into the library world.

Download article (pdf, 1.13 mb, 6 pages)
Video on the core concepts of design thinking (5 min.)
Video on how design thinking can help libraries (9 min.)

(via Centre for Design Innovation)

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