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Design Thinking Toolkit for Libraries. What Is It? Download It!

Remember the feeling you had when you stepped foot into your library for the first time? Nervous excitement aside, everywhere you looked, you saw opportunities to make a difference. The feeling that you could make all the changes you wanted – all well before your first anniversary in the job.

A few years in and you’ve done a great job making some significant changes. You now have a better library management system (LMS). You have implemented new policies, changed the library layout, and added new resources, all with a focus on your users.

Yet there are still ideas you haven’t found a way to implement. You feel there is more you can do to inspire the library’s users but not sure quite what, or how:

  • You’ve got the ideas, but how do you organise them?
  • How do you assess them?
  • How do you make them happen?
  • What processes or tools could help?

So, where do you begin? Have you thought about investigating the Design Thinking for Libraries Toolkit? The toolkit was developed jointly by the Aarhus (Denmark) and Chicago public libraries with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is a smart way of demystifying the concepts of Design Thinking so that librarians can use it to find solutions to their everyday challenges.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is – a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result. It is based on the methods and approaches of professionals like architects.

How Does the Concept Apply To My Library?

The idea is to put your community and users at the forefront when creating services to meet their changing needs, no matter what type of library you manage.

The toolkit developers at IDEO commented that they “Created this toolkit to introduce a way of working that will help you understand the needs of your patrons and engage your communities like never before.”

Softlink IC knows that many librarians, including those using our Liberty and illumin software, are, in reality, already doing many of the things outlined in the toolkit. However, the kit could help solidify the processes and guide your approach. There is always more than one way to achieve your goals. The toolkit could help you find the solutions that will work for your users.

You can go to and find out more about the Design Thinking for Libraries Toolkit. You can also download the toolkit for free on the site.