Creating an Innovation Model for Global Public Libraries

Aarhus Public Libraries

Project Period:

In June 2013 Aarhus Public Libraries was awarded a $1 million grant to pioneer an innovative library model. Partners in the project are IDEO and Chicago Public Libraries and the purpose is to create a toolkit for worldwide library use.


Design Thinking to create better services
The grant gives Aarhus Public Libraries the opportunity to tap into the design thinking process that IDEO has used to help hundreds of organizations innovate and grow. IDEO will guide the staff in Aarhus through a thoughtful process to evaluate challenges and create new responses in order to better serve their users and communities. This will lead to experiments with solutions to real, existing challenges through this process. This may be a reconfiguration of the physical space in the library, as Aarhus is evaluating as they examine the role of play in children’s learning, or creating a new program to address a specific need in the community.   

The result of this is a toolkit for global public libraries. It will be published August 2014. In June 2014, the two libraries will share what was learned through the process at the Next Library conference in Chicago. 

Design Thinking will create new concepts for Dokk1
Dokk1 will become Aarhus’ new Main Library and Citizens’ Services and it will open in the beginning of 2015. This project develop services and new concepts for this new library in two themes that play a central role in Dokk1: "Children and Families” and “IT in the physical library space”.

A recognition to libraries in Denmark
The award of the project is a recognition of the innovation work in Aarhus – but it is also a recognition of the development potential not just found in Aarhus but throughout the Danish library system. Danish libraries are well advanced with innovation and re-imagining the library's role and that is an inspiration for many libraries all over the world.

Chicago Public Libraries, Chicago Public Libraries Foundation, IDEO

The project is supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Libraries

Library Transformer: Sidsel Bech-Petersen (

Project Owner: Knud Schulz (