People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Rethinking Libraries: Anythink

Is it a doodle or a scribble? Or maybe it’s a piece of spaghetti. Whatever it is, it’s the logo of Anythink Libraries, located right outside of Denver, Colorado.


Some interesting tidbits, points, and thoughts:

  • No Dewey.
  • No reference desk.
  • Like Darien Library, they changed staff roles by matching skills with duties (i.e. those that are better at handling materials than providing public service are responsible for back-end processes).  
  • When designing the buildings, the new director said “focus on the quality of the space, rather than the number of books we’d put in the space.” In my conversations with librarians who were involved in library renovations or relocations, shelf space is a top priority. While shelf space is important, it’s more important to look at the library space as a whole. 
  • Not everyone is going to like the changes and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. “Achieving culture change hasn’t been simple—for instance, one new hire, shocked to see the reference desk gone, bowed out.”
  • “Because the library pays many bills (on time) with credit cards that accrue points, it can send staffers to conferences and training events without cost.” What a great and simple idea to reduce the costs of professional development and conference attendance.
  • “Instead of trying to get everything perfect, we work to get the big idea right, then circle back to work on correcting and refining the details.” Someone once said perfection is the enemy of progress. Just get it out there and you can tweak it along the way.

Library field trip to Anythink! (One day…maybe when there’s a conference in Denver. Darien, CT is a lot easier to get to than Thornton, CO). Check out the LJ article for more info about Anythink.


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