I’m currently working on a capstone project that focuses on the intersection of libraries, technology, and design, advised by the design firm IDEO. This is a look at my team’s research to date. We start the design phase in June 2019.

Nothin' down here yet...

ROLE

Design Research

LENGTH

10 weeks

YEAR

2019

Aren't libraries obsolete? Why are you interested in the future of a fading institution?

That’s how most of our classmates viewed libraries; even our advisor at IDEO thought that they were still just a place to borrow books and get shushed by snarky librarians.

The common perception of the library couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, most libraries are reducing their traditional book offerings and taking on a new role: one that is highly responsive to the needs of its community, whether that means providing VR & 3D printing, bolstering economic development, enabling artmaking, reducing the digital divide, partnering with community orgs, offering free alternatives to Netlix & Spotify... and so much more.

Evolving technology has not destroyed the library–it has shaped it into an indispensible piece of the American social fabric.

“Branch libraries, which futurologists not long ago predicted would be made obsolete by technology, have instead morphed into indispensable and bustling neighborhood centers and cultural incubators, offering music lessons, employment advice, citizenship training, entrepreneurship classes and English-as-a-second-language instruction”

– Michael Kimmelman, New York Times (2019)

Research as exploration

Over ten weeks we learned how to craft a research plan, execute it, and synthesize our findings into something actionable. Here's a snapshot of what we did:

12 User Interviews

4 Expert Interviews

Design Workshop

Fly on the Wall

Competitive Assessment

Literature Review

Making sense of it all

We emerged from the sensemaking process with a wealth of interesting stories and design opportunities–our exploratory approach gave us insights in quite a number of different directions. For the sake of brevity I've self-selected just a portion of our research findings and design opportunities to share.

Design opportunities

Our research identified 6 major opportunities for design, though I've selected our personal favorites. We will soon be selecting one of these areas to move forward with in a design phase.

Each opportunity is accompanied by data pulled directly from our research.

How might we personalize the patron’s experience of using shared public technology?

During our fly-on-the-wall visits to branch libraries, we noticed a trend: just about every computer lab in every library was at capacity. People were coming to the library to fill the gaps in their technology access. Kids came in to play videogames. Older adults wanted Facebook. Others came to fill out job applications.

How might we personalize the patron’s experience of using shared public technology?

During our fly-on-the-wall visits to branch libraries, we noticed a trend: just about every computer lab in every library was at capacity. People were coming to the library to fill the gaps in their technology access. Kids came in to play videogames. Older adults wanted Facebook. Others came to fill out job applications.

How might we personalize the patron’s experience of using shared public technology?

During our fly-on-the-wall visits to branch libraries, we noticed a trend: just about every computer lab in every library was at capacity. People were coming to the library to fill the gaps in their technology access. Kids came in to play videogames. Older adults wanted Facebook. Others came to fill out job applications.