Design Thinking: The Role of Library Staff in Participatory Design

How can libraries adopt “design thinking” to improve their library services, programming and spaces?   What do libraries need to do to prepare staff for the change? According to Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”  This webinar explores design thinking principles, showcases how design thinking can be used to improve what libraries do and how libraries address user needs, and identifies strategies that libraries can use to adopt design thinking into their own work.

Keynote Rolf Hapel, Director of Citizens’ Services and Libraries in Aarhus, Denmark

“New Ways of Working – a Danish approach to Design Thinking and other participatory methods in the libraries”


Rolf Hapel has been since 2006 director of Citizens’ Services and Libraries in Aarhus, Denmark. He is librarian by education and holds a master degree in Digitization and Public Administration. He has served as librarian, deputy manager, city librarian and di-rector in four Danish cities.

He has been chair of numerous steering groups, committees and advisory boards nationally and internationally. E.g. he is currently member of advisory board for EU project Public Libraries 2020, he was member of advisory board for the Global Libraries initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 2008-2013, member of the jury in the competition for the new main library in Oslo in 2009 and advisor to Helsinki competition for new city library 2012. Member of PubliCA consortium 1997-99 and member of the Bertelsmann Foundation International Network of Public Libraries (INPL) 1999-2003. Member of the Danish Ministry of Culture Committee, forming the Danish act on public libraries, 2003.

Rolf has written many articles and he is an international renowned speaker on issues like library development and transformation. Among recent tasks on national level was heading the Danish Digital Library coordinating body. Internationally, the Next Library biannual conferences and the cooperation with Chicago Public Library and the design company IDEO supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Design Thinking for Libraries have mapped Aarhus as one of the hot spots for public library development in the world. The biggest challenge for Rolf has been the realization of the stunning main library, Dokk1, that opened in June 2015 in Aarhus. It is a 30.000 m2 building reflecting a new concept of the physical library in the networked society and Dokk1 attracts 1,3 mill. visitors per year in a city of 330.000 inhabitants.

Steven J. Bell, Associate University Librarian – Temple University, Philadephia, USA

“To Adopt Change Be the Change: Opportunities for Staff Engagement with Design Challenges”



Steven J. Bell is the Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University. He writes and speaks about academic librarianship, learning technologies, library leadership, higher education, design thinking and user experience. Steven is a past-president of ACRL and a co-founder of the Blended Librarian’s Online Learning Community on the Learning Times Network. He currently writes at Designing Better Libraries, a blog about design thinking and library user experiences. He authors weekly columns for Library Journal Academic Newswire, “From the Bell Tower” and “Leading From the Library”. He is co-author of the book “Academic Librarianship by Design” and editor of the book “Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership”. For additional information about Steven J. Bell or links to his projects, point your browser to

Sara Chiessi, Librarian at Paderno Dugnano, Milan metropolitan area (Italy)

“The NewLib project: learning, testing and disseminating Design Thinking for libraries throughout Europe”

 Foto da mfontanin

Sara Chiessi works for the consortium/special agency CSBNO – Cultures, Sociability and Libraries Operational Network – in the public library of Paderno Dugnano, located in Milan metropolitan area (Italy). She is also a reseacher on topics such as information literacy, impact evaluation of public libraries and library social value. She has worked for the Italian Library Association (AIB) and is currently a member of AIB’s Study Group on Information Literacy. As a librarian, she is a member of one of the Italian library teams involved in the European project NewLib–New Challenges for Public Libraries, mentored by Dokk1 library Denmark) and aimed at studying, applying and disseminating Design Thinking for libraries in European countries such as Italy, Portugal and Romania.

Before becoming a librarian, she worked for several years in Film and TV Production as story editor.

Moderator: Matilde Fontanin – IFLA CPDWL and AIB (Italian Librarians’ association) – please contact for registration information.

The series “New Librarians Global Connection: Best Practices, Models and Recommendations” is organised jointly by IFLA New Professionals Special Interest group and IFLA SC Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning with the support of the American Library Association.

For more information about the 2012-2017 series and to listen to a number of webinars, visit the following link

Questions and requests for information about the series:

Loida Garcia-Febo
Series Coordinator