Design Thinking for Libraries

We created the Design Thinking for Libraries toolkit to introduce a way of working that will help you understand the needs of your patrons and engage your communities like never before. We understand the challenges facing librarians are real, complex and varied. As such, they require new perspectives, new tools and new approaches. Human-centered design allows us to work together to discover what our communities want, and we can experiment to create services, programs and processes to meet their changing needs.




The toolkit has been translated into ten languages by libraries around the world. 

Libraries all over the world have translated the toolkit, and you can download the translated versions on this website. So far we have toolkits in Chinese, Czech Danish, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, and Thai. There are more in the works. If you’re interested in translating the toolkit, please get in touch with us at We’ll share files with you so the toolkit design looks the same, and we'd love to post your translation here so it’s available to other librarians. 


More Design Thinking Tools


We are creating a set of resources and
stories to supplement the toolkit. 

In addition to the toolkit, we’re curating a set of resources to help support you through the design thinking process. We’ll soon share some of these with you, and over the next year we’ll be continuously adding more. Check back periodically to see how things evolve. If you have ideas about tools you'd like to see or help create, please get in touch with us at


About Us


The toolkit is the result of a project funded by the Global Libraries program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. IDEO led the creation of the toolkit, which was shaped largely from experiences working side by side with librarians in their contexts over the course of 2013-2014. We partnered with Chicago Public Library in the United States and Aarhus Public Libraries in Denmark, observed over 40 librarians across 10 countries, and synthesized learnings from their initial design experiments into this toolkit. You can get in touch with us at Or follow us on Facebook to learn about how global libraries are engaging in Design Thinking.