Innovation Can Be Fun
by Dick Kaser
While there is much talk about the need for “innovation” in libraries, it’s not always clear what that means exactly. As one of our conference speakers recently differentiated, innovation can mean doing something new for your library, something never done before in a library setting, or something never done before anywhere. Most innovations fall into the first two categories, but the main point is that you don’t have to be first to be an innovator. Sometimes, you just need to take the initiative to introduce something new to your community, as three case studies in this issue illustrate so well.
Sidney Eng wasn’t the first to install iBeacons in a public space. However, installing them at strategic locations—and developing the messaging that is delivered to mobile device users as they navigate the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s physical space—is certainly innovative. You can be an innovator within your library, too, by following and building on the tips he provides in his article.
Likewise, Ray Uzwyshyn was not the first to deploy a 3D printer in an academic library space. But having done so at Texas State University, he provides “pragmatic steps” for you to follow in specifying, budgeting for, and deploying these highly touted, state-of-the-art devices in your university’s learning commons, which bring with them a sense of innovation for everyone.
Finally, Katherine Boden and Karisa Tashjian were not the first to engage in community outreach, digital-literacy instruction, or lifelong learning advocacy. But their initiative to develop a comprehensive program to help Rhode Island’s underserved residents in such a way as to align with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is a marvelous example of doing things in a new way and innovating through collaboration.
Sometimes, breakthroughs involve simply fitting existing things together in new ways. May you find the inspiration, from these three firsthand accounts, to take the initiative to innovate.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor