A Challenge from OpenIDEO

Jennifer Peterson /

Update: The Challenge has concluded, and an OpenIDEO community member has launched an Idea building on our contribution and he's actively seeking input from libraries!

We've been following the work of IDEO, and more specifically OpenIDEO, and are very excited to share with you, their latest Challenge. We've submitted a 'Contribution' to the Challenge and invite you to take a look at what we've provided for the Research phase, share your thoughts and suggestions, and join us as we see where it goes.

First, a bit about who they are:

OpenIDEO is part of IDEO, a design and innovation firm that uses a human-centered, collaborative approach to solving complex issues – a methodology we call design thinking. Modeled on this approach, OpenIDEO enables people everywhere to collaborate in developing innovative solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges.

IDEO actually recently launched their new Design Thinking for Libraries Toolkit, a project funded by the Global Libraries program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Money Smart Week Kickoff CC image courtesy United Way of Greater St. Louis on FlickrThe Toolkit is a valuable resource for libraries interested in working through the three phases of design thinking (Inspiration, Ideation, and Iteration) in order to design meaningful solutions for your library community. [Note: We're working on scheduling a webinar with presenters who have used the design thinking approach at their libraries. Stay tuned!]

OpenIDEO is a platform used to work through the design thinking process collaboratively, with people around the globe who share a commitment to growing ideas and solutions for the world's challenges. The emphasis on collaboration is very appealing for those of us who work with libraries, and so we thought it was a great opportunity to join a community who will be, over the next few months, grappling with this question:


How might we use the power of communities to financially empower those who need it most?

Powerful Partners CC image courtesy Bobbi Newman on FlickrWe believe that the ways in which financial issues relate to people having the power to make choices, lead healthier lives, and grow stronger communities is right in line with the mission of libraries! There are a number of examples of how libraries are more deliberately addressing financial literacy in their communities, and many more examples that demonstrate the daily reference and referral services that libraries provide. In the initial phase of the OpenIDEO process, community members are invited to contribute to the conversation with Research, or sharing existing initiatives, tools, methods and community perspectives on the challenge.

You can learn more about OpenIDEO and come check out our Contribution to the initial Research phase.

  1. We recommend starting with the Challenge Brief, to get an overview of the Challenge and the phases to be passed through over the next few months.
  2. Then take a look at our Contribution and applaud or comment on our submission, or even submit your own Contribution! (Creating an account is easy.)
  3. Consider using the Interview Toolkit they provide, to dive deeper in your own thinking or to gather input from your community.
  4. Please share any other library financial literacy examples, research, or thoughts on the short list we've shared in our Contribution:
    • Money Matters, a series of workshops and e-learning modules created by the New York Public Library.
    • Pathway to Personal Financial Skills, a resource created to help libraries understand the impact of the economic downturn on personal financial stability, and how they might provide resources, training and programs to help patrons get better control of their personal finances.
    • A number of Financial Literacy resources collected by PLA, for libraries and their users.
    • Including Money Smart Week @ your library, a national initiative between the ALA and the Federal Reserve Bank (Chicago) to provide financial literacy programming for libraries to help members of their communities better manage their personal finances.
  5. Help us grapple with the Challenge question as it relates to libraries.

We're excited to join the OpenIDEO community in this adventure, and hope you'll join us on the journey!