From “Design Thinking to Design Knowing” Webcast – Recording and References

On Thursday, May 12 the Blended Librarian Online Learning Community gathered to participated in a webcast led by Rachel Ivy Clarke, a doctoral student at the University of Washing Information School. In the presentation From ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Design Knowing’: Reconceptualizing Librarianship as a Design Profession. After sharing some initials thoughts about what we mean when we speak about design, Clarke shared some ideas from her research on how design thinking fits in to the practice of librarianship. In the talk Clarke shared a number of provocative ideas, such as hold design critiques at library conferences, to indicate how design practices could bring positive change to the profession and education of librarians.

If you were unable to attend this program or if you did an want to review it or share it with colleagues, here is the link to the recorded archive.

During the webcast a number of books and authors were mentioned and some citations were shared in the chat room. Rachel was kind enough to share the references with the Blended Librarian Community.

Online resources:

IDEO Design Toolkit for Libraries:

Standford Virtual crash Course in Design Methodology:

  • Note that there are other good resources from both IDEO and Stanford throughout their websites.


There has been so much written on design that it’s difficult to narrow it to a few suggestions. The following represent seminal scholarly works that guide the idea of design as a unique discipline, with a distinct philosophy and way of knowing. Any of these can get you started; references in and/or citations to each will offer more. Presented in chronological order.

Herbert Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, MIT Press, originally published in 1969.

  • Simon was one of the first to write about design as a different way of knowing, in terms problem solving via artifact creation. However, much of his work is an attempt to understand design in a scientific way, which subsequently was shown to be a limited perspective by Schön, cross, and others.

Horst Rittel & Melvin Webber, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.” Policy Sciences 4: 155-169, 1973.

  • This piece is the original introduction of the concept and definition of wicked problems.

Donald Schön, The Reflective Practitioner, Basic Books, 1983.

  • One of many early studies to observe and analyze what actually occurs during the design process, Schon’s work is considered seminal in the design field.

Nigel Cross, Design Thinking, Berg, 2011.

  • One of many pieces Cross has written about “designerly ways of knowing,” I suggest this one because it draws on and synthesizes many of his earlier writings as well as writings of others.

Harold Nelson & Erik Stolterman, The Design Way, MIT Press, 2012.

  • A more modern take on design philosophy and ways of knowing, I suggest this one because much of their viewpoint is easily visible in librarianship, especially the idea of service being integral to design.

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