Your Technology Outreach Adventure: Tools for Human-Centered Problem Solving

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From straightforward internet access to elaborate makerspaces, libraries have taken center stage when it comes to providing free access to technology to those who visit their physical spaces. But how about people who don’t walk into a library? How do we ensure those members of the community are also being reached by technology programming? It’s time to launch an adventure! Berman, named an ALA Emerging Leader and Library Journal Mover & Shaker, provides readers with a comprehensive plan for creating and implementing successful technology-based outreach. She also teaches readers design thinking skills that can enable library staff to become creative problem solvers. Sharing the methods and experiences of her team at San José Public Library, Berman’s guide

  • presents numerous real-world case studies, including videomaking in a skate park, e-readers for seniors, popup mobile makerspaces, and simple circuits in middle school, that will inspire readers to move technology beyond the walls of the library;
  • offers dozens of design thinking exercises, such as rapid prototyping, empathy mapping, and logic models, as part of a start-to-finish model for developing a new program concept;
  • discusses the origins of and reasons behind the digital divide, then shares outreach fundamentals and best practices that will help ensure success; and
  • provides information about ways to connect with the community, perform evaluation, offer STEM programming, and additional resources.

This guide will empower libraries to design and prototype technology-based outreach ideas safely, quickly, and with confidence, leading to better service for all members of the community.


Chapter 1    Bridging the Digital Divide
Tradition in Literacy Instruction
Access and Knowledge
Fear of Technology
Bringing Technology into the Streets

Chapter 2    Outreach Fundamentals
Aligning Outreach Programs with Your Library’s Mission
Understanding Your Community
Having Meaningful Community Conversations
Finding Partners

Chapter 3    Technology-Based Outreach Planning
Choosing Outreach Sites
Purchasing Technology
Paying for the Outreach Program
Facing Your Fear of Failure

Chapter 4    Design Thinking
History of Design Thinking
The Design Thinking Mind-Set
Tools for Human-Centered Design
Elements of Design Thinking

Chapter 5    Best Practices for Design
Set Aside the Solution
Build a Toolkit
Follow the Rules of Brainstorming
Record the Design Story
Identify Constraints

Chapter 6    Design Thinking Exercises: A Path to Creative Problem Solving
What Are Your Aspirations and Barriers?
What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?
Who Are Your Stakeholders?
How Do You Gain Insights from Stakeholders?
How Do You Review Feedback from Stakeholders?
How Do You Brainstorm Solutions?
How Do You Decide Which Solutions to Prototype?
How Do You Anticipate Surprises?
How Can You Try Out Solutions to Your Problem?
How Do You Turn Prototypes into Real-World Outreach Programs?
How Do You Know If the Outreach Is Working?
What Tools Can You Use for Evaluation?

Chapter 7    Planning Technology-Based Outreach: A Design Thinking Journey from Start to Finish
What Are Our Aspirations and Barriers?
What Problem Are We Trying to Solve?
Who Are Our Stakeholders?
How Can We Gain Insights from Our Stakeholders?
How Do We Review Feedback from Our Stakeholders?
How Do We Brainstorm Solutions to Our Problem?
How Do We Decide Which Solutions to Prototype?
How Do We Anticipate Surprises?
How Can We Try Out Solutions to Our Problem?
How Do We Turn Our Prototypes into Real-World Outreach Programs?
How Do We Know If Our Outreach Is Working?

Chapter 8    Technology Outreach in Practice: Real-World Case Studies
Video Making at the Skate Park
Pop-Up Mobile Makerspaces
E-books and Seniors
Simple Circuits at a Middle School


Erin Berman

Now Principal Librarian of the Learning Group at Alameda County Library in California, Erin Berman was Innovations Manager at San José Public Library in California. Her work has mainly focused on technology literacy and equity, leading projects such as the Virtual Privacy Lab and the Maker[Space]Ship. She is currently the Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee's Privacy Subcommittee, assisting libraries across the nation in Choosing Privacy Every Day.