To add depth to our primary research, we have been gathering and studying secondary research sources that are relevant to our current understanding of the project scope. These include texts such as: “A New Culture of Learning” by: Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown, “Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out” by: Mizuko Ito and team, and YouMedia’s resource bank for all grantees of the MacArthur Teen Learning Labs grant–all pertaining to studies conducted around new ways of learning for teens. In addition to material focused on the user group, we also have many references for design-specific research methods that we have gathered over our first year, but I wanted to share some key quotes from one that I feel is particularly applicable to our work with The Free Library: “Transformative Services and Transformative Design” by Daniela Sangiorgi.

The paper goes into depth about the recent shifts in service design: ”Service design practitioners have been moving from providing solutions to specific problems, to providing organizations with the tools and capacities for human-centered service innovation” (Sangiorgi 31). Our practice throughout most of our graduate work reflects this shift, and we have created an approach that uses the specific “problem” as an entry point to engage with the organizations and communities in a transformative way. We find that this method differentiates us from other consultants because “the emphasis is therefore not only on developing external ‘mechanisms of involvement,’ but also on implementing internal ‘mechanisms of change’” (Sangiorgi 35). Instead of working with an organization and leaving the relationship with only a set of specific recommendations on a piece of paper, we engage in a co-creative, collaborative process that works to build methods and tools that the organization can use when implementing current and future initiatives. One essential aspect of this transformative process involves something Alex mentioned in an earlier post–action research. Sangiorgi highlights the outcomes of this practice: “Consciousness-raising or ‘conscientization’ is the central concept of community action research. It is intended as a self-reflection and awareness process that leads from seeing oneself as an object responding to a given system to a subject that can question and transform the system itself” (Sangiorgi 33).

As our summer work with the library continues, one of our greatest challenges will be to measure and communicate the impact and value of transformative services and design. In the paper, Sangiorgi specifically speaks to five metrics for measuring action research: ”Quality in action research is measured looking at five types of validity: outcome validity, democratic validity, process validity, catalytic validity, and dialogical validity” (Sangiorgi 37). All of which we need to  explore further and adapt to our specific work.

We look forward to collaborating with the Free Library of Philadelphia in this capacity, and believe that it will help to position them as a leader in establishing what the new role of libraries is in the future.

Vía Kelly and Alex's Thesis