Blog Post April 2024

Co-designing libraries: progress report

Philip Hider

The ARC Linkage Project, Designing for Communities with Communities, has come on leaps and bounds since it started in May last year. It’s always going to be a bit challenging to synchronise different library development projects, but our project has been fortunate enough to have some very enthusiastic and committed partners on board, and we’re now in the thick of data collection and the actual co-design. The series of community workshops has already been completed for one of the case studies, and the second series, for another library, is underway. Both of these case studies involve a public library refurbishment, one in a metropolitan setting, the other regional. Lots of data has been (and will be) collected in the workshops, as well as prior and afterwards, for us to analyse over the course of the coming months, but the design of the workshops themselves has itself been a very interesting exercise, and benefited from a different kind of co-design, on the part of the researchers and facilitators with different views on what might or might not work. A commentary on this and what we ended up with, for the first two case studies, has been published in a Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association article, the pre-print of which can be accessed here.

In the end a balance was struck between more technical and ‘professional’ design processes and those more suited to community members at large. Given the relatively small amount of time the workshop participants had, there was also a limit to the amount of iteration that could be accommodated, and a limit to the extent that the co-designers could be expected to progress from ‘big picture’ ideation to detailed prototyping. Nevertheless, a concrete (and carpeted!) floor plan, together with some interesting aesthetic ideas, had materialised by the end of the first case study’s workshops, much to the excitement of the library staff.

We hope to publish a write-up of the first two case studies by the end of this year.