While the concept of design thinking is not new, in the past several years, it has emerged as a concept of interest for libraries, placed firmly in our sights through a high-profile collaboration between the Chicago Public Library and DOKK1 in Aarhus, Denmark, supported by the Gates Foundation.

Design thinking—or human-centered design, as it is also known—is most closely associated with design consultancy firm IDEO, and is simply a method of creative problem solving that starts with reaching a goal, rather than a solving a problem, in mind.

For the Hillsboro Public Library, our intention was to use this process to develop a new collaborative and patron-focused service model. In Hillsboro, we knew we wanted to reduce service points and make it easier for patrons to get the help they needed in whatever form they preferred. We also knew that we needed to be clearer about the roles of our Library Assistants and our Librarians, and to find ways for the staff to work together, rather than be siloed. Rather than thinking about our current service model as a problem that needed to be fixed, we wanted to explore ways to improve the patron experience and bring more value to staff.

Author Biography

Stephanie Chase

Stephanie is Director of the Hillsboro (OR) Public Library. Prior to Hillsboro, Stephanie coordinated service strategies to libraries for BiblioCommons and was the Director of Library Programs and Services for The Seattle Public Library. Stephanie is the founder of the Green Mountain (VT) Library Consortium, a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, and a founding member and current chair of the LibraryReads Steering Committee.

Copyright statement

© 2017 Stephanie Chase



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