Libraries have long benefited from major donors that infuse dollars as well as strategic perspective at key junctures. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has stepped into that role with signature energy, most clearly illustrated by the Knight News Challenges, including two focused on libraries. By their very nature these call on libraries to speed new ideas to address big needs, and the robust response from the library arena has surfaced and celebrated a range of creativity.
On March 30 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (KF) announced the award of nearly $1 million to support five innovative library projects. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML), NC; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA; Peer 2 Peer University, Chicago; Richland Library, Columbia, SC; and Southwest Harbor Public Library, ME, each received between $35,000 and $250,000 to help realize a range of creative concepts addressing the digital information needs of their communities. Simultaneously, KF released a report, “Developing Clarity: Innovating in Library Systems,” examining opportunities and challenges within the lifecycle of library innovation.
The Innovation in Libraries chapter of The Awesome Foundation is currently accepting grant applications, with an April 15 deadline. Formed in 2009, The Awesome Foundation “is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1,000 at a time.” Autonomous chapters operate on a local level by raising funds from community trustees that are then given as microloans to projects in the arts, technology, community development, or other sectors, deemed “awesome” according to that chapter’s own guidelines.
Even for forward-thinking libraries and librarians, who operate in one of today’s most fast-changing and dynamic fields, concepts like innovation and change management may sometimes seem esoteric. If so, don’t be alarmed: Even the world’s most progressive business schools typically offer precious little training in these increasingly vital subjects. Happily for those operating on the frontlines of leadership or administration though, mastering these concepts—the art of staying ahead of the curve—doesn’t have to be a difficult process. In fact, all it often takes to get ahead and continuously go from strength to strength in today’s hyper-kinetic business world is to stay alert, stay adaptable, and stay amenable to new ideas and strategies. Flexibility is, in short, the essence of future-proofing.
Two library service prototyping spaces, in two very different places, have a remarkable amount in common. Nate Hill runs and operates the 4th Floor in Chattanooga, a large public library loft space operating as a flexible community makerspace and event space. Jeff Goldenson co-ran and operated Labrary, a 37-day design experiment occupying a vacant storefront in Cambridge.
The home base for the New York Public Library (NYPL) Labs is a strange mix of old and new. A bunch of modern cubicles hover incongruously amid the stately marble walls of what used to be a courtyard in the venerable Schwarzman Building, before the need for more space convinced the library to press it into service. It’s not a bad metaphor for what the labs do: turn the library’s substantial historical holdings into something new, useful, and a little bit quirky.
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OK, I’ve had it. Too many meetings, too many presentations, too many blog posts, too many think-pieces along the lines of “here’s how to fix ______” (insert your choice of system in crisis: the economy, domestic security, higher education, scholarly communication, the Euro zone, the designated-hitter rule, etc.), all of them breezily touting the same […]
Thanks to a non-stop stream of talk about innovation we just start to tune it out. Let’s not give up on innovation yet. Now is the right time to find innovative ways to open our gates. Back when Americans actually had a modicum of respect for financial institutions, a certain stock broker was well known […]
Three North Carolina State University (NCSU) librarians have been honored for developing the NCSU Libraries Mobile Scavenger Hunt. Anne Burke, Adrienne Lai, and Adam Rogers have been named the 2012 recipients of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) College Libraries Section (CLS) ProQuest Innovation in College Librarianship Award. Winners receive $3000, which is […]
The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) unveiled it’s second round of Top Innovators at its annual member meeting, held June 25 in New Orleans during the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference. The programs and strategies identified range from improvements and internal operations to outreach programs, partnerships, branding, and more. The 11 Top Innovators, by category, […]