Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bringing Your Vision and Voice to a Design Project

When I was told that the J.T. Moore library would be one of the recipients of the renovations being sponsored by the Nashville Public Library this year, I was over the moon excited. What an honor! I immediately began dreaming about all of the things that I would change and add to our library. At the same time, I also got a little nervous. Would anyone listen to my ideas? Would I be able to have a say in design decisions that were to be made? The following are pieces of advice that I would share with anyone in the midst of a library design project.

1. Stand up for yourself.

Don’t be afraid to voice what you think should or should not be done in a library re-design. You are the expert. You know how the library gets used, you know your patrons, and you know what could be improved to make it a more flexible, usable, and enjoyable place. There are some things you know you need that certain stakeholders might not understand (like a sink, for example). Don’t let that stop you from asking for those things. Make your case with confidence and stick with it!

2. Bring evidence to support your ideas.

It can be helpful to bring organized, written evidence to support what you think. I created a detailed, bulleted list of the ideas I had and provided evidence when appropriate (stats if I had them, anecdotal if not). At first, I created the list to keep my own ideas organized, but when I brought copies to a design meeting, I found that writing my ideas for everyone to see helped bring the group into my vision.

3. Visit other newly designed libraries – in person and virtually.

If you can take some time to visit other newly designed libraries in person, do it! While there, take pictures of things you like and talk to the librarian for ideas and advice. Additionally, the Internet can be a great place to dream. Save pictures of things you’d love to add in your library, print them (in color is best), or email them to the design team. You never know what might be possible! Plus, sharing pictures with the team will give them a sense of your style.

4. Ask questions.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but for someone who can be introverted, like me, it is extremely important. If something doesn’t seem clear or if you’re getting lost in the jargon of the other experts on your design team, ask for clarification! It is vital to make sure that the project continues to align with the vision you originally voiced – even if some things have to change along the way. 

MNPS Librarian

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