People Interact

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

Wandering Librarian: 1st post of the new year

Continuing our popular series about our wandering, this is a delayed post from this summer’s wandering in Europe. This time I was in Leiden, Netherlands. No, I did not visit Bibliotheca Thysiana, the only surviving 17th-century public library in the Netherlands or the Leiden University Library which manages the largest collections worldwide on Indonesia and the Caribbean.

Embarrassingly, my family was seeking shelter from a sudden rainstorm and ducked into the closes library; BplusC Bibliotheek Nieuwstraat (Library and Centre for Art and Culture). While my family went to the children’s area, I toured the library and noticed many similarities with American public libraries; SISO classification system which is very similar to Dewey’s system, a wide array of public programs, event spaces, self-check out system, coffee shop, etc. However, there were many firsts for me also; a fully equipped music studio complete with guitars, grand piano and drums, a printer system that accepts credit card payments, and a Plextalk devices – digital talking book players that have been especially designed for the print disabled.

Disconcertingly, in a conversation with a staff member I also learned that they share the same woes as American public libraries; mainly less & less public funding. In fact, BplusC is a paid membership for adults.

All in all a nice library experience even if it was by happenstance.



Wandering Librarian: George Baritiu Children’s Library

Next up on my wanderings through Europe; the city of Brasov in the Transylvania region of Romania. Much to my disappointment no vampire library exists. Even Bran Castle AKA ‘Dracula’s Castle’ was devoid of a vampire library. My consolation prize is the George Baritiu Children’s Library.

After wandering around & passing the entrance several times I finally found the building. This modest building offers very basic library services; books & computers. On a summer morning it was quiet. Staff informed me that in the summer they offer kindergarten classes and that it would soon be packed. When I inquired about a YA section I was told that the children’s library is for kids 0-18yrs old.

What really impressed me was the children’s jungle gym and toy library. This is the first time I have ever encountered an indoor jungle gym or toy library in a library. Yes, they actually had an indoor jungle gym for the kids. The toy library is exactly what it sound like. A shelving unit against the wall was packed with toys and board games for varying ages to play with and borrow. unfortunately you’ll have to take my word for this because I was not permitted to take photos.

Wandering Librarian: Carturesti Carusel in Romania

While on a 2 week trip to Europe, my first stop was a bookstore at the recommendation of our taxi driver. Truthfully I was disappointed that the taxi driver recommended a bookstore when I specifically asked him about libraries. However, once I stepped into Carturesti Carusel, I wasn’t so disappointed. Set in Old Town Bucharest, Carturesti Carusel, a monument turned bookstore offers an experience with no comparison.

Beyond the sheer majesty of the building, wandering around and perusing the over 10,000 books or just enjoying the beauty of the inside was a great experience for my entire family. Not a bad first stop for this wandering librarian.

Designing My Life: Good Time Journal

If you’ve been following along, I’ve decided to design my life following Burnett & Evans book.

After creating my Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard  and Building My Compass, I next created my Good Time Journal.


Over a period of 3 weeks I kept a daily log of my activities. Admittedly I did the haggard-stay-at-home-mom-to-kids-under-4 version; whenever I can remember and/or have time.

Next came time for a reflection of my logs. I looked for trends in my log and attempted to get more specific about what does or does not engage me.

I used the suggested AEIOU method to help with the reflection part.

A: Activities – structured/unstructured, leader/participant, what was I actually doing?

E: Environment- inside/outside, what kind of place was it? how did it make me feel?

I: Interactions – with people/machines, informal/formal, new/familiar

U: Users- who else was I with? what role did  they play in my experience?

Designing My Life: Building My Compass

If you’ve been following along, I’ve decided to design my life following Burnett & Evans book.

After creating my Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard I moved to the next step; Building My Compass.

The authors ask that you reflect on your workview and your lifeview. In 30 mins I typed up an essay (<250 words) defining my values, perspectives and ‘matters of ultimate concern’ around my workview and lifeview.

This exercise helps to build coherency and connects who I am, what I believe in and what I am doing. These go beyond the day to day wishes of what your ideal work and life would look like.