Library 2.018 Design Thinking Conference Recap

iStudent Blog

Publishistudent_blog_designthinkingchalk_-_copy.pnged: March 19, 2018

Gain insights from the Library 2.0 virtual conference, “Design Thinking,” held on March 8.

Over 5,500 people registered for the first Library 2.0 virtual conference of the year. “Design Thinking: How Librarians are Incorporating it into their Practice” was held online and for free on March 8.

SJSU iSchool faculty, students, LIS experts and professionals from across the globe came together to learn about and share their experiences with design thinking. Having participated in several design thinking sessions in the corporate world, it was interesting to see how it is being applied in libraries. I offer you a brief recap of the conference below. Take a look and then register for the Library 2.0 network to watch the recordings. 

If you’ve never attended a virtual conference before, things are of course a little different. First of all, no need to dress to impress! It is a good idea however, to update your profile with a professional looking photo and other information about what you do and where you work (or go to school). You can right click on other participants’ profiles and view their information; take the opportunity to network! The conference was delivered via Blackboard Collaborate, which many of you will be familiar with. To join the conference, it’s as simple as clicking on your timezone and you’re taken to the schedule with all the links to the different presentations.

Opening Keynote
Over 700 people tuned in to watch the opening keynote live. Moderator Steven J. Bell, Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University and Lecturer at San José State University, was istudent_blog_designthinkingprocess.pngjoined by Sidsel Bech-Pertersen, Head of Projects and Co-creation at Aarhus Public Libraries, Rachel Ivy Clarke, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and Gregory Diaz, Children’s Librarian at the Chicago Public Library.

Rachel Ivy Clarke kicked off the session with an introduction to design thinking. She explained that librarians are natural designers and that being a librarian involves designing over and over again, whether it’s an instruction session or an interface. Sidsel Bech-Petersen shared how design thinking was used to create “a library for people not books!” As part of the process, librarians went out in the library to test prototypes and gather feedback from patrons. Aarhus Public Libraries and Chicago Public Library were involved in the creation of the Design Thinking for Libraries Toolkit. According to the toolkit, design thinking is “a creative approach, or a series of steps that will help you design meaningful solutions for your library” and “a deeply empathetic and intuitive process.” Last to speak was Gregory Diaz who discussed design thinking at the local level, specifically how to improve user experience. He described a project focused on millennial gamers and shared photos of their prototypes.

Presenter Sessions
After the opening keynote, attendees had the choice of several different sessions going on simultaneously. You could read a short description and the speaker’s bio to help you choose which session to join. It was nice to be able to drop in and out of sessions as you pleased. The beauty of watching the recordings is that you don’t have to choose, you can watch them all! In the presenter sessions you got to hear more examples of how design thinking has been used in libraries. Patrick “Tod” Colegrove in his talk ‘Embracing Change: Design Thinking, Technology, and the Library,’ described how the University of Nevada, Reno library covered 20,000 square feet of walls and tables in white board paint! Curious to know what Georgia Coleman’s presentation,‘Cupcakes Not Wedding Cakes’ was all about it, I dropped into this session to discover that at Richland Library a “cupcake” idea is one that might not be the biggest and boldest but could be prototyped and tested quickly to see if the “wedding cake” (a big idea) would be successful.

Closing Keynote
For the closing keynote, Steven Bell focused on three main themes that emerged from the conference; as described in a post-conference blog post:
1. Better to fail small than fail big, so take advantage of prototyping a new service or resource in your library.
2. Design thinking is about problem finding. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t truly know what the problem is (from the user perspective).
3. Design thinking is a group activity. It’s a great way to engage library staff to work together to make a better library.

Whatever presentation you choose (or if you watch them all), you’ll find plenty of practical advice from folks who have been there and done it in a variety of library settings. Mark your calendar for the next mini-conference, “Blockchain Applied: Impact on the Information Profession,” being held on June 7, and “Libraries and Social Crises” in October (TBD), both from 12 – 3 p.m. PDT. In the meantime, you can catch up on the three mini-conferences from Library 2.017: Expertise, Competencies and Careers, Digital Literacy & Fake News and Makerspaces. For recordings of these events, head on over to the Library 2.0 YouTube channel.

Image 1 Design Thinking by thinkpublic/CC 2.0
Image 2 Human Centered Design courtesy of Priscilla Ameneyro


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