Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces Curriculum Outline

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The Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces project is guiding the transformation of 15 small/rural libraries to create active learning spaces, using a blend of live-online sessions and an online learning community.

Beginning with an introduction to the big picture concepts and practical examples of active learning and space transformation in small libraries, the program then guides participants through the project phases of community discovery, rethinking physical space, design thinking approaches to ideation and prototyping, and action planning. Throughout the orientation, subject matter experts and experienced practitioners are engaged to inform, mentor and spark confidence.

Curriculum Outline

Resources and project materials will be added as they become available through June 2018.

Module One: Small Libraries Can Create Smart Spaces

- Active Learning Definition
- Outcome Based Evaluation: recording & slides
  • Shift in the role of library as learning place for the community
  • Concepts and examples of active learning
  • Concept of Placemaking for community engagement
  • Introduction to outcome-based evaluation
Module Two: Inspired Planning with your Community
  • Authentic community discovery, reaching diverse stakeholders to understand aspirations and needs 
  • Introduction to tools and methodologies
  • Building partnerships - identify potential partners and begin to cultivate relationships
Module Three: Flexing your Space

- Attributes of a Modern Library
- Seven Answers to Seven Weeding Questions      


  • Attributes of a modern library
  • Clearing space (physically and psychologically) – weeding, letting go, reprioritizing
  • Convivial spaces – characteristics of engaging and successful active learning spaces
  • Elements of flexibility – re-envision the use of library space
Module Four: Design Thinking and Ideation
  • Introduction to Design Thinking for Libraries concepts
  • Turning community input into ideas through ideation process
  • Brainstorming rules to achieve “beginner’s mind”
  • Creating personas
Module Five: Prototyping and Iteration
  • Forming project teams
  • Introduction to the prototype process, moving from post-its to tangible models
  • The value of iteration
  • Documenting progress with project photos
Module Six: Action Planning and Implementation
  • Formulating an action plan for creating a “smart space,” incorporating feedback from the prototype process
  • Best practices for establishing a work flow, drafting a budget, detailing materials, enlisting partners and volunteers
  • Evaluation planning for library projects
Final Phase: Celebrate, Share & Sustain As the end of the 18-month engagement nears, participants will consider opportunities to sustain the impact and support for ongoing use of their transformed spaces and services. Learning and activities for this phase will emerge as the projects take shape.