The Base Library

Crossovers for libraries

The Case

The challenges for 31Volts were to find crossovers for libraries, and how to find and design them throughout a design driven process. Our researcharea was The Base Library at Schiphol Centrum; a business center building hosting multiple big organizations. A building with over 2000 employees. A couple of years ago they built a library in the Atrium of The Base. It contains a collection of books, magazines and newspapers situated around a big reading table. Some individuals eat their lunch over there.

The strength of the initiative to establish a library in The Base lies in adding value for the tenants. The question, however, was whether the value of the library really came into its own. It didn’t seem that way at first.

Province North-Holland

Discovering valuable crossovers for the library.

Design scenarios that outline promising crossovers for the library.

Want to know more?
Download the Case Study!
(Dutch only)

When is a crossover valuable and what should it yield?

The design process

The fases throughout a project we normally follow are basically the same: Frame, Learn, Create and Transform. So the project in The Base Library also started with framing the problem. We took a close look at the challenge “finding valuable crossovers for the library”. With the team, we answered questions such as: why are we looking for crossovers? What is the real problem behind the question? And what are we actually talking about when we talk about cross-pollination? But also: when is a crossover valuable? And what exactly should it yield?

Besides the research we did ourselves, our team helped the stakeholders to do research in a design driven, and human centered way. They learned to translate valuable insights to opportunities.

From insights to opportunities

The insights from the conversations were easy to cluster. We discovered four themes:

1. The dynamics of the day
The library will work much more digitally. This makes it more accessible in the dynamic life of its users.

2. Feeling at home in a different language
Here the library fulfills its role as an ideal educator. Accessible, reliable, and knowledgable.

3. Looking at unfamiliar places
The importance of knocking at the neighbors door is central to this. In The Base, as it turns out, the day care centers have a great need for collaboration with the library.

4. Getting people to read
In this, the library’s offerings are proactively brought to the people, in contrast to the current system, where action depends entirely on the user.

Learning by doing
Design driven innovation projects are known for ‘Learning by Doing’. If you are unsure with your team whether something is a good idea, it’s best to try something. This means that projects require a hands-on approach, action and speed, prototypes and experiments. “Learning by doing things” is not at the expense of the strategic agenda of the challenge, as long as you regularly reflect on the progress of the project.

These insights offered the library a lot of opportunities! You can interpret every insight in many ways. The best way to find it is to keep talking to people and trying things out. If we make this, what happens then? And what if we do it that way? We have designed the various opportunities in scenario posters. The posters show the library’s role in providing strategic advice on how to deal with the insights. The scenarios are fictional, but provide a good basis for experiments.

Custom deliverables
We have made the design process transparent to help the organization on its way to develop the skills required to deal with change. In the delivery we described the four phases frame, learn, create and transform and we show which choices we have made in the project. In addition, we provide tips per phase for involving stakeholders, organizing workshops, and organizing a design process.

“It’s important to separate good ideas from actions you must take to stay relevant as library!”


The impact of a good idea in the form of a service scenario is valuable and can meet a need. However, people’s needs continue to change and that is why it is important to continuously respond to this. This requires a different kind of ideas.

This means, for example, that every organization nowadays has to develop skills to deal with that change. It requires a mentality in which it’s normal to start with the perception of people and where learning by doing is self-evident. It requires organizations in which continuous learning is central.

Service Design

Shortcomings behind the scenes impact how people perceive your organization. Service design enables you to envision and create the ideal customer experience. With hands-on tools we help you improve and innovate services, processes, assets and culture.

Applied methods
Field research, Prototyping, Co-creation, Design scenarios

Design Research

Putting people first

Explore more projects:

KLM Studio
Victim Support NL
Museums of Utrecht

Strategic Design

Tap into unexplored areas

Explore more projects:

OMO School Community
Schneider Electric

Designing Cultures

Cultivate a creative environment

Explore more projects:

Ministry of Economic Affairs
KLM Pride is blue
KLM Book
SHN Implementation

Get in touch

Do you also want to explore opportunities?
Call +31 30 8903220 or send an e-mail!

Design in
the service
of people

Schaverijstraat 11
3534AS Utrecht
030 8903220