ALA Midwinter 2018

#alamw19 Social Innovation

How does your library support innovation and inspire creativity? Sarah Studer and Arnold Phommavong both suggest the solution is to seek out more voices in examining the problems your community is facing.  Studer has had success mobilizing the 3 C’s: creativity, compassion, and community. In tackling homelessness while working at Impact Hub, she gathered a diverse group of people—including homeless individuals—and started the discussion by examining what home meant to each participant. Connecting over shared experiences was a great starting point and a way to get everyone to engage. Her experience has proven that it’s the people who are most affected by a problem who will know how to solve it. Impact cannot happen in isolation, it requires collective action and collaboration. Both Studer and Phommavong stressed the importance of creating a safe space to fail, to create solutions and revisit them. Phommavong focused on human-centered design, or the design of everyday things. It’s about discoverability and feedback, and is design that is created out of a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for. He highlighted some fascinating case studies, one of which involves a group attempting to engage parents of children with needs. In working to solve the problem, researchers found a lot of factors were stopping parents from attending free workshops that were being offered to them: both issues with access and a stigma attached to admitting that parenting can be a challenge. Rather than only addressing access and finding rides or babysitters for parents, they created a toolkit to produce a podcast. Caregivers were given both easy access and the means to avoid any stigma. If it’s somethinng you’re interested in learning more about, Ideo has a free toolkit for human-centered design. Studer recommends reaching out to a local university’s human-centered design program for partnership opportunities or checking out the book Designing your Life.

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