Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian, Temple University
I was pleasantly surprised to become aware of the Future Ready 365 blog, and I’ll look forward to acquiring some good ideas from colleagues who are confronting the challenge of building a sustainable, resilient library. I’ve been writing and speaking about future-proofing for approximately the past two years, and have shared a number of ideas for ways in which librarians in all sectors of the profession can create libraries that are ready for whatever the future might hold. I first became interesting in pursuing this topic when I was asked to contribute to Library Journal’s issue on “Future Proofing Your Library”. I wrote:
Adopting new skills and new techniques to our work will help, but I also advocate that library workers need to take a whole new approach to how they identify problems and develop the right solutions. Design thinking is all about being a “problem finder” and then thoughtfully developing, in playfully creative ways and in teams of border-crossing professionals, appropriate solutions. A significant challenge for library workers is keeping up with user expectations. If we fail to provide our users with an experience that meets their expectations, then we lose, and in a hypercompetitive and hyperconsumptive society, that can be the greatest challenge to our long-term viability.
We must use design thinking to create great library experiences for our users, because when people can get their information anywhere, all that can differentiate our libraries is the unique experience we can deliver—but it must be based on personal relationships, it must deliver meaning to the user, and it must be well designed.
Any number of strategies may contribute to the librarian’s effort to create a future ready library. I offer a dozen such strategies in my article “Fit Libraries Are Future-Proof.” Some of the strategies are inspired by library practitioners; others come from for- and non-profit industries. The overarching philosophy that unites them is the design thinking approach, seeing oneself as a professional who brings intentional design to creating a future ready library. The point is that becoming future ready or future proof requires more than the occasional random actions and occurrences that move us forward incrementally. It demands intentional design. I hope others will take the time to follow the links in this post to learn more about design thinking and how it can contribute to a creating a fit library that is ready for anything the future throws our way.
Steven Bell is the Associate University Librarian at Temple University. He blogs at Kept-Up Academic Librarian, ACRLog, and Designing Better Libraries, and is coauthor of Academic Librarianship by Design. Learn more about his ideas on design thinking and user experience at stevenbell.info/design and http://dbl.lishost.org. You can follow Steven Bell at http://twitter.com/blendedlib.