NYPL Workspace


‘NYPL Workspace’ is a knowledge sharing network with the expertise and resources of the NYPL. It combines and reimagines the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) in midtown Manhattan and the online Small Business Resource center.

Team members: Emily, Jessica, Josh

Brief: Deliver a user journey for NYPL Workspace

Deliverables: A visual user journey walking through and Mockups

Objectives: Understand independent workers, freelancers and small business owners’ needs for NYPL and connect them to the resources that the NYPL offers

Research & Insights

“I use advice from peers and informal advisors as well as resources like quora, reddit and blogs on kickstarter and other platforms.”

“Internet research, trade publication and mentors.”

“Online education, advice from friends and mentors.”

We visited SIBL gathering all the information what and why people came to SIBL, what SIBL offers, etc. figuring out its value position and possible opportunities. While we were doing the on-site research, we executed online surveys and interviews with many independent workers, freelancers and small business owners both NYPL goers and non-goers. After all, it’s all about the human connection — small businesspeople relied heavily on individual networks, seemingly to solve needs that they felt could not be solved by more general resources.

We also performed a a heuristic review of the NYPL’s online small business center which offers rich and diverse business help to the community, but at the expense of clarity.

Q. Why did you participate in the business competition?

“I didn’t have an investor or much working capital, so I needed to utilize every single thing that was offered to me free of charge.”

Q. Have you been back to the library since you won?

“I haven’t been back, but I would want to give back, talk to future applicants and be involved.”

SIBL has many unique and valuable features — such as the 2015 business plan competition winners, whom were announced soon after we started this project. We spoke to one of those winners, Annie Etheridge of Field & Clover biscuits, who won $5k from the NYPL for her business plan. Annie was enthusiastic about her experiences and interested in giving back, but that she hadn’t yet been back to the library since winning the competition.


Our Approach

From our research, we realized that it needed a revised information architecture with the user needs which is the value of experts and possibly the unique value from the existing sources, business competition winners and participants. Putting this all together, we created Workspace. As we defined our concept, we started doing some brainstorming and created a blueprint for Workspace which helped us see the whole picture to understand the system.

User Scenario & Storyboard

We set three user scenarios which are for Newbie, Accomplished businessperson and Ongoing mentorship relationship.

Information Architecture

We created a new sitemap for Workspace.


From initial to final, we created several different versions of wireframes and clickable prototypes for the test.

Final Designs

We created ‘Ask Workspace’ which is a platform where users can find help easily by leveraging the resources and networks of the NYPL. The system will have results based on what users type such as asking questions or a simple word. The key design here is to have the auto-suggest books and resources that match the terms. When there’s no similar question, users can post their own. Here too, while typing a question, the system will auto-suggest related library resources. Once answered, the person who posted the question would receive a notification.

We designed Workspace to be a individually curated resource center for the users. When creating a new account, users will go through onboarding which asks them about their interests, types of business, etc. This information helps the library generate personalized resources and news for each user when they log in.