Going to conferences inspire me. Hearing about the fantastic things other libraries are doing, then getting together with my colleagues to exchange these tidbits over dinner is one of my favorite parts about the conference experience.

“How awesome is this?”

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that?”

While I’m always flooded with new ideas, it seems like every year there’s a stand-out message or theme that sticks with me…one that inspires me enough to become my mission. Last year it was gaming (flash forward one year later: we offer video game programs in most of our 34 branches and will—fingers crossed—be implementing our circulating collection this fall).

This year, it’s a little loftier, a little harder to measure. The word that kept resonating with me this conference was innovation. Burned brightest into my brain: innovation happens in times of crisis. I know that many libraries right now are experiencing crisis due to budget woes, and we are no exception: while we’re more fortunate than some, we are feeling the familiar belt-tightening that I’m sure many of you are.

So, this is my thing. Innovation. It’s time to get creative, find ways to get things done in unorthodox ways. Open my mind to outlandish suggestions and abandon those tired practices that just aren’t working. I’m thinking this will keep me busy for a while.

What’s your thing?

About Connie Urquhart

I'm the Teen Services Coordinator at Fresno County Public Library in Fresno, California. With YALSA, I've worked on the Web Advisory Committee and am current chair of the TV Task Force. I <3 Twitter.

4 Thoughts on “What’s Your Thing?

  1. Jami on July 10, 2008 at 7:47 pm said:

    Today I heard a program about using music in storytimes. The presenter said that music has an effect on all of us and is frequently used to create a specific emotional response.

    One of her examples was a library choose to play Barry Manolo outside the library to discourage loiters.

    My reaction was simply why don’t we do the opposite and play music to help define spaces in the library.

    My system has been talking about balancing space because we still have a clash between teen areas where it is safe to socialize and places to read. Maybe play classical in reading areas. OCRemix or local bands in the teen areas, and something specific for the other areas too.

    Stores do it, why not the library!

  2. The idea of innovation has been stuck in my brain for the past year, mainly because of lackluster attendance at my branch’s teen programs during the school year. I finally realized innovation doesn’t have to mean I need to come up with the next big trend in teen programming, but I may need to think about…get ready for it…working at night or on a weekend!

    I had to think a little bit ouside the box of my own standard 9-5, M-F schedule to identify times that work best for teens…so I surveyed them, and after nearly 100 responses saying Saturdays would be a great day for them to get to the library for a program, I’m now in the planning stages of Saturday Sessions.

    Yes, I’ll have to rearrange my schedule. Yes, I need to look more into my community to find people who can offer special programming. Not groundbreaking, but an experiment nonetheless. I’m pretty excited to see how it works…

  3. connie urquhart on July 11, 2008 at 3:31 pm said:

    It’s so true. Innovation doesn’t have to mean coming up with an idea that no one has ever thought of before but instead, reinventing services to best fit the needs of your community. The hardest part, I think, is letting go of the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. After that it’s opening the door to every philosophy/brainstorm/project, even if it’s just to mull it over in your mind for a while (btw, I *love* Jami’s thoughts on identify space by the music that’s playing).


  4. Kelly Tyler on July 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm said:

    I love this question!

    I, too, have been thinking about innovation and how it can work in small libraries like mine that have seen their teen collections and populations neglected for a few years. I was really inspired by Kimberly Bolan at the President’s Program. Instead of being depressed about working with a dismal “teen space” (quotes are because it’s really a teen space in name only), I’m starting to see its potential. When I first started as the YA here some months ago, I was bummed that I’m in one of the oldest library buildings in the city. Now I’m realizing that being in an old building might be beneficial because we can be a bit more creative in solutions without worrying about freaking out architects and administrators. =)

    As a teen council gets launched for the first time EVER at this branch, I’m really looking forward to thinking of ways to rethink the space so it’s welcoming to teens. Of course the extra added fun will be trying to figure out how to do this on little to no budget. The fun part will be opening it up to teens to see what they want to do…

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