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

Erin Berman is a fierce privacy advocate, leading the American Library Association’s Privacy Subcommittee from 2018 - 2022. During her time as Innovations Manager for San José Public Library, she published the book Your Technology Outreach Adventure: Tools for Human-Centered Problem Solving. Currently, she works as the Division Director of the Learning Group for the Alameda County Library in California.

"Trying and failing are important components of implementing new programs and outreach, but Berman provides a wide variety of tools that will allow professionals to plan well, and to reflect well after failing ... From pop-up programs to a 39-foot bus dedicated to technology programming, the San Jose Public Library has tried it all. The lighthearted tone will help readers absorb the serious business of developing meaningful outreach or technology programming."
— Booklist (starred review)

"The major strength of this volume is the framework: design thinking can be applied to all forms of outreach (not just technology), to workflow and process improvement, and to policy drafting ... Recommended not just for those planning technology outreach but for librarians involved in any kind of programming, procedure changes, and project implementations at any size or type of library."
— Library Journal

"Librarians wanting a guide to technology outreach have come to the right place ... Highly recommended."