Client: New York Public Library (NYPL)

Course: Service Design

Role: Research, Visual Design


My group chose to focus on creating a deeper engagement between visitors and the NYPL through a richer exhibition experience. Initially, we explored solutions that would get users more engaged with the artifacts on display, but eventually we pivoted and focused on making exhibition experiences feel timely, relevant, and relatable so that they resonate with visitors.

Initial Research

To kick off the project, we started by visiting the Schwarzman Building, which is the NYPL's main exhibition space. Our goals during the research were to understand how people experienced exhibitions and uncover meaningful ways to intervene. We also spent time meeting with exhibition experience designers, to understand their process and gain a better sense of how our solution might fit into their work. 


Key Findings from Research

  • Exhibitions need a narrative that resonates with visitors
  • Visitors need to be guided through the experience
  • Most users find out about exhibitions from third parties

Target User

Our research also allowed us to identify our target users. While a large part of the current library audience is kids and adults over 35, we chose to focus on adults ages 18-35 who seek new information and experiences, but do not regularly visit the library. We see this group of potential users as an opportunity to bring more people into the NYPL ecosystem by first exposing them to exhibitions and then extending their visit by connecting them to other NYPL resources. 


Based on our findings, we established the following goals: 

  • Augment the exhibit experience
  • Provide context around artifacts
  • Create a more social experience
  • Showcase related library resources
  • Continue engagement past exhibitions

Once we identified our key users and goals, we began prototyping. 

Experience Prototype

Our first prototype explored an experience where users would receive location-aware alerts with additional information about the artifacts they were near. We imagined this working via bluetooth and beacon technology, but wanted to begin with a very low fidelity experience so we decided to simulate this via text message. 

Key Findings from Prototype

  • Don’t repeat existing descriptions
  • Surface key aspects of the artifact
  • Give users more control over choosing what to show

Final Concept

Stories by NYPL

Stories by NYPL is a web-based app that accompanies visitors during their experience by giving them more contextual information about artifacts and connecting them with related NYPL resources when it is most relevant to them.

We started by sketching out the user flow and once we agreed on a direction, we moved into wireframes and visual design.