Special Topics in Information Studies: Library Test Kitchen (LTK)


Within the Library and Information Science (LIS) discipline in North America, several projects have been funded recently that focus on developing pedagogy that incorporates the principles and practices of Design Thinking. The course instructor was a co-PI on a grant (IMLS, 2014-2017) that explored innovative approaches to rethinking LIS curriculum and the skills required of graduates to engage in the development and implementation of contemporary library programs and services. As part of the research, we worked with faculty in design programs at Harvard and MIT, respectively, and developed a pilot curriculum for students to engage with libraries in applying design thinking to projects requiring innovative approaches. A version of the pilot has been offered at Simmons College (Boston) for the past two years, with the University of Washington iSchool subsequently adapting a similar course. While design principles are core to the Faculty of Information’s User Experience Design (UXD) concentration for technology applications, Library Test Kitchen (LTK) is a field-based course intended to bring students into a library setting to co-design and build solutions to user- and/or library (institution)- defined “problems” which are not necessarily technology-focused. While LTK will use libraries as the “test kitchen” for exploring innovative solutions, the design thinking approach is one that can be applied in many settings. Consequently, the course may be of interest to students enrolled in other concentrations, such as Archives and Records Management (ARM), Knowledge Management/Information Management, UXD, and in the Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) degree program.

Students in the LIS concentration will benefit from acquiring a toolkit of Design Thinking principles and applications that are in demand in contemporary libraries committed to innovative programs, services, spaces, or systems (broadly defined). At the same time, they will work with real problems alongside management and staff in the field in a variety of library settings.