NLB partners SP to engage the public in designing the new library@orchard

(Singapore, 19 December 2012) For the first time, library goers will be involved in creating the new library experience at Singapore’s Orchard Road. The National Library Board (NLB) and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) are partnering to develop the new library@orchard with Design Thinking, a user-focused approach. The NLB-SP team has developed a range of prototypes on ideas of space design where the public gets to give feedback and suggestions to shape the library-going experience when it opens in 2014.

“In designing library@orchard, we want to create a space that the library users will feel at home with, a place where they can drop in when they are in the vicinity of Orchard Road to enjoy the collection of books, magazines and audio-visual materials. Involving the library users in this library’s development will help us understand their needs better,” shares Ms Amarjeet Kaur Gill, Director of Public Library Services, National Library Board.

“SP is the first polytechnic that teaches and practices Design Thinking. This collaboration offers our students an opportunity to apply their skill sets in a real-life environment, and strengthen their domain knowledge in Design Thinking. This project also allows our students and staff to contribute to our society by creating a conducive environment for learning”, says Mr Hee Joh Liang, Deputy Principal, Academic Planning, Singapore Polytechnic.

How Design Thinking Works
Design Thinking methodology fits in well with NLB’s plans for library@orchard as it employs a user-centric approach in all facets of library development – from design, infrastructure, services and collection development, to programme planning. The three key phases of Design Thinking involves (i) defining user needs, (ii) developing ideas and prototyping, and (iii) developing a strategic business model. Proposed ideas are reviewed by users and groups of stakeholders before plans are shaped, refined and crystallised. Intensive intuitive user tests are also conducted in this process and prototypes will be refined based on user feedback in an iterative manner.

As the Design Thinking process requires a multi-faceted approach and expertise from various fields, NLB and SP have assembled a multidisciplinary project team comprising library professionals, lecturers and students from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment, the SP Business School, and the School of Communication, Arts and Social Sciences. Together, the NLB-SP team combined the Design Thinking principles with the practical needs of library management to develop and conceptualise the upcoming library@orchard.

Creating library@orchard with the Public
The team has completed the first phase of defining user needs to develop the design concept for the library. From 18 December 2012 to 31 January 2013, library visitors can view the prototypes on display at the Central Public Library, located in the National Library Building at Victoria Street. They are invited to touch, feel and experience these prototype services and ideas – themed Playground, Trend Gallery, Sanctuary and Good Reads, and Memory Bank and Windows to the World.

Students and lecturers from the Singapore Polytechnic, and library staff from the National Library Board will be at the exhibition to gather feedback from the library users.

Alternatively, the public can send in their ideas and suggestions through http://blogs.nlb.gov.sg/orchard/