What is it?
MindThread is a service that’s allows you, and your knowledge-needs to be connected to the perfect librarian match. It also allows you and your librarian to visually build, use and share knowledge pathways you create and explore together.

Who is it for?
MindThread is for people with the need to go in-depth with their research — people who have a need for knowledge exploration and guidance. It could be anyone from a consultant in a small business, a student or someone that wants something more than just a generic answer. For the Librarian it’s a tool for keeping up-to-date with his or her areas of expertise, a service that connects them to other librarians, users and communities, and a chance to visually see and work with the network of information pathways they create. Most of all, it’s a powerful motivational engine, that enables librarians to provide the best possible service to their customers!

Why is it valuable?
The service enables the customer to always know where and to whom to look for maximum guidance for their current knowledge need. As for the librarian; it means they get the right questions, from the customers whom they can benefit the most. It gives them extra motivation, the opportunity to explore and dig more deeply into areas of expertise, as well as a way to easily connect with other expert librarians and other knowledge explorations.

How does it work?
The MindThread service is divided into three phases:

Phase One: Carpet Profiling. When you, either as a librarian or library user, sign up for MindThread, you start creating your own profile! This profile will hold everything you ever read, all the movies you’ve ever seen, all the places you’ve ever visited, links to all your social networks, and your whole education. Additionally, your profile will capture your current interests and your knowledge needs. Using the MindThread profile, librarians and customers will automatically be matched to one another based on knowledge need and expertise.

Phase Two: MindThread Exploration. After the carpet profile match has taken place, and your knowledge need has been accepted by the librarian, it’s time to explore the pathways for answering your questions. This knowledge exploration can happen locally, or remotely, depending on your wish or the geographical location of the librarian. The ability to view, explore, modify and connect is created by MindThread maps, a map visualisation of your exploration.

If there is a previous knowledge exploration that matches your current knowledge need, MindThread will automatically link relevant information from this session to your map. This gives you the possibility to stand on the shoulders of those who walked before you, getting deeper into the material and obtaining more knowledge than ever before.

This also gives librarians with less expertise on a specific topic the chance to use the framework and knowledge of an expert librarian when exploring an area with a user. In this way, an entire network of knowledge explorations will be built, updated, connected and shared among users and librarians, giving everyone using the service the benefit of each other’s work.

Phase Three: Finishing up. The carpet profile and knowledge map you’re working with are continuously updated by whatever new information you and your librarian come across, until you feel that your questions have been answered and you’re completely satisfied. If you at any time in the future want to check out how you got to a certain piece of information or how you connected two areas of interest to each other.

The carpet is there to tell your story. Hidden within its fibers, is all the information you and your librarians explored, including the visual pathways, links, and work you created.

What were your key learnings?
One of the best skills a good librarian has is his or her ability to harvest knowledge and connect the dots among all sources of information, from any field or domain. However, most of these connections are made inside the head of the librarian, with little or no “real world” systematic infrastructure to support this powerful skill. It’s necessary to connect the right customer to the right librarian in order to create a higher level of personal satisfaction and a stronger sense of motivation, on both sides.

Our Process

Week One – The context
The library can be seen in many different ways, but the two most common ways of seeing it are as a public place where one studies or comes to meet other people. One of the assets of a good library is good librarians. When a librarian is working on finding information to answer a customer’s need, they make connections to everything, from new literature, old literature, online resources, newspaper articles and even to people, organisations and communities. A good librarian will also connect with other librarians with specific interests and areas of expertise.

Sadly… however, most of these connections are made inside the head of the librarian, with little or no real-world systematic infrastructure to support this powerful skill. Today, when a customer asks a librarian, it’s really a matter of luck, if the librarian you ask is an expert regarding the question you’re asking or even if he or she knows anything about another librarian with more knowledge in the field they are being asked about.

Even though all librarians have basic knowledge on a wide range of different domains and are experts in using specialised search tools to find information on a specific topic, the performance and impact they deliver to customers when working within their own areas of expertise are far superior to the performance of working in an area of little or just generic interest.

Therefore it’s necessary to connect the right customer to the right librarian in order to create a higher level of personal satisfaction and a stronger sense of motivation, for both parties involved.

Week Two – User Insight
We met three different groups of library users in order to ask them what their vision of the libraries was. As first we met some students: Peter, Maria and Ditte (25 years old). They use the library as a meeting point. They would like to have a library that could be as fast and current as the internet but with the quality standard already offered. Also, we met some people from the management and the administration of the library. They would like to have more visibility. They already have fantastic services but they are still too invisible. They are thinking about how to apply a more commercial approach. Our last interview was with a shop assistant in a bookshop. We asked her about the strategy used to sell books. She recommended allowing free exploration.

So our design challenges were three: a library fast and current as internet, continued high quality service and an increase in the librarians’ motivation to provide better explorations.

Week Three – First Concepts

From the user research and the brainstorming sessions we came out with two ideas.

My Shelf: A service that allows users to build a personal library in line with one’s real interests. We focused our attention on the relationship between customers and librarian and on the necessity for a new search tool.

Knowledge Nomad Carpet: A service allowing users to create one’s identity knowledge, acquire and explore interests and give users the possibility to interact with a bigger community.

We decided to merge these two ideas in the MindThread service, keeping some points from both. We
kept the metaphor of the nomad carpet, as a thread for developing our project and as a way of having a different experience/exploration at the library. From the first concept, we took a personal approach and focused on the librarians as the centre of the system.

Week Four – Experience Prototyping
For the experience prototype phase we built some carpet profiles together with seven librarians. Then we asked for a user with a real knowledge need to set up a session with the librarian that was most in line with her interests. So, we built, with the user, her profile, to share with the right librarian. The match was done, and it was working very well. We provided also a visual knowledge map, which they used during the exploration.

The librarian spontaneously found this tool very useful for the session. Also our customer was very satisfied to receive so much fast, current and useful knowledge in only one session and she found it very interesting to have a visual map to review from this incredible session.

Week Five – Final Concept/Solution
(see ‘what is it?’ at the top of this page)