library, student employees, innovation


In 1999, ABC’s Nightline asked IDEO, a well-known innovation and design consultancy, to redesign the shopping cart in five days. While the challenge of re-imagining a cultural icon “inexplicably stuck in a sort of an innovation limbo”1 drew enough interest, even more compelling was the process the IDEO team used to research, brainstorm, and design the new model. The IDEO team threw out middle-management hierarchies based on experience or seniority—the project leader, who had only worked with IDEO for six years, was chosen for his skill in leading groups. The team members came from many disciplines, including psychology, architecture, linguistics, business, and industrial design; all stood as equals. After brainstorming issues like theft and child safety, the team split up into groups to interview grocery store shoppers, managers, and workers. Based on their research, each group designed a model, and then together the team designed a final model that incorporated the best of each group’s ideas. Some of the early ideas were a little outlandish—Velcro children’s seats, for example—but the final design was surprisingly functional, original, and aesthetically pleasing.

Original Publication Citation

Smith, S. D., & Galbraith, Q. (2011). Shopping carts and student employees How student committees can bring innovative ideas to academic libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 72(7), 394-397.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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ACRL Publications




Harold B. Lee Library