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Cupcakes, Not Wedding Cakes: Sparking Small Scale Innovation in Public Libraries

Your Name and Title:  Georgia Coleman, Chief Customer Officer

Library, School, or Organization Name:  Richland Library (Columbia, SC)

Co-Presenter Name(s):  N/A

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Southeastern US

Language in Which You Will Present:  English

Target Audience(s):  Public libraries

Short Session Description (one line):  Using human-centered design techniques to create and prototype small changes that have a big impact on customer experience.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):  Richland Library is creating a culture of innovation by building the capacity of staff at all levels to use human-centered design tools for problem-solving. Through small-scale prototyping, staff are empowered to test changes that can enhance customer experience. Learn how we're "seeding" design thinking and using this iterative (sometimes messy!) process to make library services more convenient and enjoyable for our customers.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:,

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Hi, Gina! Thanks for submitting. 

The review committee asks: "This sounds good but we don't we want a presentation about makerspaces - we've already done that. Please ask the speaker to specify what project will be highlighted in the preso - this can't be just about creating culture change with DT. Give us an example of a completed design challenge - even if it wasn't a total success."

I've sent an email with instructions in case you'd like to modify and resubmit.



Hi Stu. 

This proposed presentation is definitely not about makerspaces. To get an idea of the kind of work we're doing at Richland Library (2017 IMLS National Medal Winner) and the expertise we've developed in using service design to transform public library spaces, you could visit Design thinking was employed in every step of the redesign of our 11 locations, so there are certainly tangible and measurable results!

I was hoping that this proposed presentation would focus more on small-scale, iterative change (with examples, of course) and sharing the work we've done over the past four years to create a culture of innovation -- which is no small task!

If this isn't what you're looking for, though, I understand.



Great. Maybe there was a mix-up in the review. I'll pass along right now!  :)


OK... :) Here's what came back:

"Coleman's proposal sounds of interest but the full description is rather short on detail. Can you please respond back to indicate that we did accidentally share the wrong comment with her. However please ask her to expand or amplify on her proposal to include at least one concrete example of a project the library used a design challenge for - whether it was a success or failure - but we would want to be sure Coleman's presentation will speak to the DT process and organizing a design challenge in the library."

Sorry about the makerspaces mistake, Georgia! Does the above give you enough guidance?



Hi, Georgia: 

We've accepted this proposal! Look for an email from me.




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