Using a Design Process to Effect a Change

The Senior Campus “Reference area” (see left of map below) is not serving the purpose of enhancing learning. It needs to cater for multiple groups ranging from Year 6 (11 year olds) to Year 12 (18 year olds) simultaneously in any school day. It is currently very traditional in layout, partly due to elderly infrastructure.

Floor Plan c.2011

The challenges of design in all its breadth are outlined in the introductory video for this course (MacIntosh, 2014):

The joys of considering future possibilities allows a broad range of potentially transformational divergent thinking (Brown, 2009) in stark contrast to the frustrations of the real-world limitations.

The space highlighted in this post is far too small for current needs, and the building was constructed well before the Internet. Capacity to fulfil current needs falls well short of requirements.

Future needs for such a space at our school have already been considered here: .

An immediate need arises due to recent and impending changes to resource provision. These are summarised in the image below:

The issues surrounding our Reference space.



The issues surrounding our Reference space.

The challenge posed in Design and Destiny is to raise the angle at which the world is viewed, and use the resulting observations to create beauty within reason and invent a new story (Starck, 2007).  Most working in this area acknowledge multidisciplinary teams as providing the best outcomes, both in terms of the ideation process, but also in terms of producing an innovative result that is collectively owned and for which all are responsible (Brown, 2009, p. 28) . Such development also allows for greater divergence in the brainstorming phase (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 21).

The process for changing this space commenced with a consideration of the various needs presented in relation to the physical constraints and in terms of improving teaching and learning outcomes. The brainstorming identified a number of potential solutions and there is the potential for immediate improvement, as well as a more futuristic scenario in the result envisaged.

As with any transformation that requires physical relocation of objects, the importance of working through a design process is critical for three reasons:

  1. Allowing for full consideration of the needs and the effects of the possible solutions
  2. Moving heavy furniture or removing fixtures involves other  people’s time
  3. Educational budgets are always limited

When some administrators are questioning the need to have a school library in the future, success is critical.

The changes:

Move most of the Reference books either into general non-fiction or onto different shelving. Move the current Reference shelving to the Reading Area to house Biography.  This will open up the floor space in the reference area and add display space to the reading area, which making Biographies easier to find. Spinners currently housing Biographies to be dotted through the Reference space and contain encyclopedias. Status – in train and awaiting workmen.

Purchase some alternative seating to allow for different groupings. Status – commenced with purchase of 6 “ghost stools” from Aldi.

Move current table layout into a variety of layouts across the wider space. Status – awaiting workmen.

Set up mini maker space near available power point – where the magazines are now sited. Status – as above.


Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York: Harper Collins.

MacIntosh, E. (2014, July 2014). Introduction To Designing Spaces For Learning. Retrieved from

Seidel, V., & Fixson, S. (2013). Adopting Design Thinking In Novice Multidisciplinary Teams: The Application and Limits of Design Methods and Reflexive Practices. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 30, 19-33.

Starck, P. (2007, March). Design and Destiny. Philippe Starck Thinks Deep On Design. Retrieved July 5, 2014, from

I have added a comment to

  1. Matt’s blog at
  2. Greg’s blog at
  3. Yvette’s blog at




10 thoughts on “Using a Design Process to Effect a Change

  1. Hello Margaret,

    I enjoyed reading your post. You articulate well the problem of a “yesterday space” serving today’s needs. I would really like to see a sketch/photo of the ‘after’ and compare it to the ‘before’.

    You may have already done this, but you could do a check of reference book use. We did and as a result streamlined our reference section and updated students with search techniques for online reference books. The result, “more space”! There were a lot less shelves needed for a lot less reference books..



    1. msimkin

      Weeding has been a significant part of my time here complicated by the fact that we own some wonderful things such as the complete C.E.W Bean’s Official History of World War 1. It is referred to occasionally by Year 9 History teachers, and is a great example for comparing the Social Media reporting of current events compared to information access in the past. Does such use justify the shelf space? I really don’t know; at this stage it stays but for how long?


  2. Liz Eckert

    A lot to work on there.

    Can I suggest a collection review (ie cull) of the non-fiction & teacher reference (backed onto Non-fiction) to help with the space? I did this 2 years ago now and ended up pulling out about 18 bays of books that weren’t in condition to be read, out-dated or just not used. This gave me a whole run of shelving that I removed which meant I could put some breakout table spaces in the aisles. We sent off the good condition books to a group that donated them overseas. I know it’d be a bit tricky with the donation of materials being based in regional Vic to somewhere but it’s a possibility. I wish I’d had the chance to visit a few of the other school libraries when I taught down the road from you (well just out of town at Good Shepherd Secondary) back in the early 2000s. With the reference books, I kept my encyclopedias together on one reference shelf & shifted most into the NF area. On one set of shelves I pulled out all the careers books that related to specific jobs that were scattered across the collection so our students could easily find them when they did their careers subject. I also created an “interesting reads” section for books that got lost in the NF that were probably books students would like to read – World Records books, Dr Karl books, Horrible Histories/Science type ones.

    I also found having some long tables in the library is also helping our students with the collaboration that they didn’t do when I had the tables separated. (I’ve put some images in the flickr group to show what I mean)


  3. msimkin

    Hi Liz, thanks for your input. We have reduced our shelving from 6 bays to 4 in my 10 years here, and have disturbed some people with our weeding. As part of the impending shelf move we are rethinking our reference resources and relocating them. I have itchy feet now waiting to book the workmen. Once that’s occurred I will very happily share photos.
    Don’t know about you, but I find weeing the fiction collection really hard! At least the non-fiction has some clear cut reasons for keeping or weeding. Have just read an article by Barbara Combes and Robyn Valli raising the question of intershelving all resources. We are having some great team discussions around this too.


  4. Liz Eckert

    I just did fiction when we put all our books back up after our new carpet & paint job. I had my library assistant help with this – unless it was a popular book, we culled multiple copies to one copy, 2 at the most. Popular books were 2 – 3 copies depending on the title (Harry Potter we only kept 2 copies of each title – the books were too fat for the 7 copies of the later titles that we did have to be all on the shelf; Hunger Games series we have 3 copies as it’s still going out a lot and requested frequently). We also looked at the covers and tried to look at them from a teenage viewpoint – as we know our students judge a book by its cover even if we tell them not to. Really dated ones went. If I wouldn’t consider it, looked very 70s/80s without being a retro cover, it went. (I enjoy my teen fiction more than adult level fiction.) We had some books that were stapled along the spine – they went.
    If any were really needed, I made a list of the ones to buy a replacement copy.
    I needed the space as we lost a number of shelves along one wall and didn’t have the replacement spinner/shelf space to put them all back. I was reasonably ruthless. I probably should go through our general fiction again (I really only got up to I/J with a close look at what was there; multiples were the only other deletes after that) and do another good look at what we have.


  5. sara.rapp

    Hi Margaret,
    This looks like it will be a very interesting project to undertake. I’m also doing a bit of a redesign of our library space, and will need to weed nonfiction (and probably fiction) to make it happen. I am also currently intershelving Reference. This discussion in the comments section has also been really helpful. Thanks also for posting your design brief. I’m wondering if you could post in the Flickr group or elsewhere page 45 of the ASLA document that mentions recommended library size per student population. That would be a very useful calculation to make, and I would love to have access to the guideline. Or if it’s just a X square metres per X students thing, could you please post it here? Many thanks!


  6. msimkin

    Hi Sara, will email you a copy of the relevant page tomorrow. We have a day off today for Sheepvention – to celebrate all things wool in the self styled wool capital od the world! (Useful to people like me who farm part time as well as interesting, and a day off work). I had the workmen in on Friday (bit of an unexpected immediate response to a request for their help). They were amazingly helpful. Not sure that I have achieved my goals yet, but the rest of the furniture moving is easy for the Library team. Will add a new post when I am satisfied. Perhaps we should work as a team for the Module 3 team task? We need to be in threes – perhaps another TL would be good – or should it be multidisciplinary? One thing about this subject – it sends the brain crazy with all these ideas!
    Thanks for your input.



    I’d love to see the impact of some small changes you’ve made already here – I feel there are a lot of great plans afoot, but I wanted to see some action in this activity, no matter how small, and some realisation of its impact, if there was any. I reckon you’ve probably done tons, but it’s maybe just a case of making clearer “this is what we did, this was the impact it had, this is what we’re doing differently next time as a result”.


  8. msimkin

    Hi Ewan, at the time this post was due we had just commenced the process of implementation so it was far too early to talk about the impact on learning. Some of the changes are still in train while some are now in place and being evaluated.
    The learning and teaching outcomes are always the most important aspect of any change to any aspect of education – whether it be physical provision or a virtual facility, and to assess this properly requires time. This is particularly true with senior secondary students who often object to changes because it is different, rather that allowing the concept to percolate before offering an opinion. At this point of time, I am very happy with the outcome on the basis of my own observations – which is too superficial for my liking. Given that everything I am reading for this course is intertwined, and is impacting on my work across the board, follow up assessment of the impact of any changes made will form part of further blog posts. Reflective and assessable posts, as well as the final assessment piece should round out the picture.


  9. Ewan McIntosh

    Thanks for sharing a bit more on the ‘weight’ of the development – it sounds like the incubation period of the course, as well as the readings and provocations you’re getting from the lit, might well help a great deal in making the impact clearer.

    One question that might crop up in Module 8, on experimental spaces, is how fast we can make that turnaround on a prototype, to get more reliable impact information earlier. An interesting one to think about.


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