Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Call for Creativity

This is the second post in a series celebrating National Library Week.

This term I am enrolled in the class "Information Services for Academic Libraries," which has provided some of the best readings to date in my MLIS program. One of the latest articles we read was Lingo and Tepper's "The Creative Campus" from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

While this article called for the need of more creativity in the academic institution as a whole, I feel that this argument is especially true for academic libraries. In a day and age where shouting out your relevancy to your users, communities and power holders may not even be enough, incorporating and promoting creativity within your organizational culture can certainly go a long way. Here are some recent examples of creative efforts by academic librarians:

Using free social networking tools to embed yourself in classes. Again in the Chronicle, there was an article highlighting a librarian who is embedded in a classroom, where she and the students are logged into twitter together. Throughout the class discussion, she will tweet relevant information sources and material. What is amazing about this is how in happens in real time, and the sources she recommends are in response to the topics and ideas brought up in discussion, not based off of a course reading list or research topic list - creating organic librarianship rather than static librarianship.

Re-imagining physical library space. I found this one by browsing Library Journal's list of 2011 movers and shakers. Joesph Sanchez, Library Director at Red Rocks Community College, converted an old storage room into a recording studio. Not only is that an amazing service to offer to students, but this would also be a great resource to include in marketing campaigns.

Providing amazing User Experience and Web Design. Everyone laments the ineffectual design found on academic websites (xkcd captured the sentiment perfectly). Creativity is an essential element of good design, and a lack of creativity equals bad design. Library websites are not immune from this phenomenon. I find that the typical causes for poor design on library websites are the stiffing policies set in stone by bureaucratic institutions. However, there are some libraries out there who are getting it right: While not perfect, I think PNCA's Fine Art Library is one of the better academic library websites I have seen. Simple? check... Navigable? check... Visually appealing? ...check and check!

Not only is this week National Library Week, but today is National Library Workers Day. Library workers (especially student workers) can be some of your biggest sources of creative potential, often bringing specialized skills and resources to the table. And keeping with the theme of Big Tent Librarianship, while this post focused on Academic Libraries any and all forms of libraries could always incorporate creativity. In fact, one of my favorite library websites comes from a public library! When it comes to creativity, I am a firm believer that we all have a thing or two to teach each other!

photo credit: New York Public Library, 1923, via The Commons

No comments:

Post a Comment