In Pursuit of Library Elegance
John Blyberg, Darien Library
Erica Reynolds, Johnson County Public Library, Johnson County, KS
Based on book “In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas have something missing” Matthew May.
The book spoke to Erica about how design could be done better.
Overall thought: Elegance & excellent solutions: when design works really well, you never notice it. Precious little resources left to libraries; we’d love to stomp all over our problems. If anything, we should subtract, take away. Author, Matthew May is a Toyota consultant.
What is elegant?
1. symmetry: simple rules create effective order.
- Look @ nature
- math: the more complex a solution, the more easier it is to be wrong.
- Circ rules??
- Jackson Pollock painting; Richard Taylor analyzed Pollock paintings, realized he was painting fractals, which aren’t discovered until 1975. This is nature. It’s not random. That’s why Pollock’s are so appealing.
2. seduction: by limiting information, it creates intrigue
- people that love libraries — that curiosity, that ever-searching need for information.
- How can libraries building upon curiosity?
- Build system that plays on people’s curiosity
3. Subtraction: by subtracting we create value and have more impact
- E vs. not full E
- restraint and removal can increase impact and value
- using people’s minds by restraining
- What can be done to library spaces?
- people who come in are smart and want to use their brains
- why put up signs everywhere!
- Quote: “Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub. It is the centre hole….”
4. Sustainability: is it sustainable over time?
- What can be repeated over time and be successful?
- limited resources spark creativity and innovation
- clay pot innovation story
The creative tension at the center of elegance: achieving the maximum effect with the minimum effort. We should relax.
Example equation: XI + I = X WRONG (how many moves to make correct?)
X + I = XI OR IX + I=X (1 move) OR turn upside down (no moves)
We don’t turn things upside down. We immediately start wanting to mess with it. What is possible, optimal.
Maybe instead: Do Nothing.
Relaxing your mind. Letting the solutions come to you.
Ideas that came while relaxing
- Archimedes’ discovered volume displacement during a bath.
- Einstein’s theory of pseical relativity came to him while daydreaming
- Philo Farnsworth was plowing in a field when the rows and lines gave him the idea for the first TV
- Richard Feynman was watching someone throw a plate when his theory of quantum electrodynamics was sparked
- JK Rowling — Harry Potter character came to her on a train.
The path to elegance:
- Reist the urge to act or add
- Ensure a diversity of opinions and expertise are heard when you are considering what’s possible and how to get there.
- Carve out time to think and time not to think
- Get away from your devices
- Get some sleep
- Get outside
Do these things
- Don’t feel guilty about stepping away.
- Run on a beach
- Go fishing
- Play in the sand
- Jump in mud puddles and scream your head off
- Contemplate a fountain
- Read this book.
- Get out of the office.
- Play with kids.
Presentation from John Blyberg (Just pulling snippets of thoughts from his)
- The quiet stir of thought (what the computer can’t do) from 1969
- Libraries about curating experiences, not just materials
- Mortar front for our networks
- Redirecting resources from backroom to frontline staff (automated delivery services)
- Shouldn’t do everything for everyone
- iPhone comes without a manual. people freaked out, and yet survived
- Signs: if you see signs everywhere when you walk into the library, there’s a problem
- Signs are a bandaid
- Idea: Touchscreen — interactive signs; give them the intrigue to discover something
- Instant gratification; mobile.
- Empowering you. How can libraries empower their patrons?
- Different platforms for exploration. Microsoft Surface table. No explanation put out for what it was. Kids were curious and explored. Users governed how it worked.
- Art gallery. playing chess. video game party (video games, set of rules, framework, discovery, solving problems)
- occasionally people come into the library to study
- users bring in own equipment; providing space for them.
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