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SWON News: The Low Down

Design is a Skill

Tuesday, April 21, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
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Design is a skill. You get better at it by practicing, and Design Thinking for Libraries is a great way to practice. You might recognize Design Thinking as the topic of the upcoming ALA 2015 PLA Preconference in San Francisco. You don't have to travel that far to learn about Design Thinking.

A key part of Design Thinking is asking questions. What problem do you want to solve? You try to write out your challenge as a series of questions: How might we...? You find inspiration by talking to the people you are designing for, asking questions about your challenge but also about themselves.

Questions create the possibility of a collaboration between the person asking and the person answering, but first you have to tell people why you're asking. Explaining the context of the question allows them to think with you.

For example, explain to a teenager that your library wants to teach teens how to use emerging technology like 3D printers. That's a great way to open a conversation. How might teens use that kind of technology? How could it relate to that teen's hobbies or interests? What knowledge would help teens become more interested in tech?

Conversations like these get easier with practice, and the payoff can be substantial. Not only do you walk away with specific ideas, but you're building relationships with patrons who have a stake in the challenges you're trying to solve. And it starts with a little practice.

  • Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator

Design Thinking at SWON's Membership Meeting

SWON's spring meetings have been focused on innovation for the last several years, and we're following that theme with a session on Design Thinking for Libraries. Speaking with us will be Cindy Tripp, who has taught Design Thinking at the University of Cincinnati Lindner School for Business, as well as other venues.

Together, we'll learn about the process steps of Design Thinking, and we'll put them into practice with hands-on activities. Join us for this great session, enjoy lunch with your colleagues, and learn about SWON's plans for the year at our brief but important membership meeting. It's open to everyone! We hope you'll join us May 26th.


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