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Why Innovation

September 15, 2009

We are a week away from classes starting for Fall Quarter at my university which means the campus is gearing up and faculty members are frantically trying to finish the prep for their courses. All of this leads me to the question of why we need innovation and why it isn’t happening so many times.

Now not to rehash everything that has already been said, I direct your attention to a 2006 presentation titled “Are We Ready for Massive Library Innovation?” by Stephen Abram at San Jose State University. You can find the link to the webcast here: Fall 2006 Colloquia List.

Abram makes a great case for libraries and innovation; a theme that can also be seen in his latest column in SLA’s Information Outlook. Now, I wish that a call for massive innovation from 2006 did not still resonate because we were all being so innovative, but it seems like we are still battling the same resistance to change and fear of innovating. I think, therefore, we heartily need to embrace Web 2.0’s mantra that everything is beta and it is better just to try something new than analyze it to death. Sure we’ll make mistakes, but if we listen to and work with our users, at least we’ll also make improvements and learn something. Failing isn’t the worst thing that can happen; not being relevant is the worst thing that can happen.

As my biology professors always said: there are only two states–change and death. So we are either changing or we are dying. I for one pick changing to death.

So is your library innovative? Do you support innovation? Do you welcome learning something new and trying something different? Are you willing to give up control to create community and let your users have a say in the creation of information and context in your library? I’d love to hear what other people are doing to foster an environment that embraces innovation because I’d try to implement them at my library.

While you are on San Jose’s School of Library and Information Science Colloquia page, you should check out some of their other archived presentations. This is really a great use of technology and they even closed captioned the videos and make them available for streaming and downloading in a variety of places and formats. This is something I wish more libraries would do–a great use of technology for PR and it incorporates accessibility. Plus, there are just some really interesting talks.

This is an older video, but in case you haven’t seen it and need some more reasons why we need to be innovative check out the “Did You Know 3.0?” video below:

Good luck being innovative, read a lot and the Waki Librarian will be back soon with more technology and library fun.

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