Innovative library and information services

Information Today publishes a range of journals, newsletters, books and blogs in the information space, including a wealth of online content. Here we bring you some recent highlights.

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Some years ago, I commissioned a book called Entrepreneurial Librarianship by Guy St Clair, a past president of SLA.  I was thrilled by the challenge to lazy thinking promised by the seemingly oxymoronic nature of the title.  Librarians can, of course, be entrepreneurial and information services can be innovative.

Outside the echo chamber

This month, Computers in Libraries publishes three articles about innovation in library and information services (LIS).  First of all Stephen Abram asks how we define and recognise innovation.  Innovative ideas can come from anywhere but it takes a certain skill set to be able to recognise great ideas.  This type of 'recognition' is a skill that can be honed.  Indeed it has to be well developed in such people as conference organisers (and commissioning editors) who need to identify what will be of interest several months ahead.  One simple way to recognise innovation is to ask whether it brings change with it.  Abram suggests ten ways to help you identify innovative ideas.  One is to ask whether the idea is coming from the 'edge' of your service.  Great, innovative ideas are more likely to come from outside the echo chamber.  So watch out for suggestions from new team members, or young users of your services or products.

Examples of innovation

In 'Innovative services in libraries', Jane Dysart and Rebecca Jones describe some of the ways in which library services around the world are innovating.  Examples include the opening of 'libraries' at Schipol (the Netherlands) and Taoyuan (Taiwan) Airports, to the new ways in which academic libraries are supporting stakeholders (including the development of smartphone apps and collaborating across faculties for digital creation and curation).  The DOK Library Concept Center in the Netherlands offers interesting architecture, rule-free spaces for children, red-lit romance sections and self checkout with radio-frequency ID (RFID) tags.

Building blocks to innovation

The main article focuses on the findings of a research study during which 18 (nine 'public' and nine 'corporate') innovative library services from around the world were identified and their leaders/managers interviewed.

A number of building blocks for innovation were identified and helped inform the structure of the interview process.  Examples of good practice were collected in each of these 'blocks'.

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